The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 333, titled:
Virtual Reality and Astrology, with Kent Bye
With Chris Brennan and Kent Bye
Episode originally released on December 30, 2021
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released March 8, 2022
Copyright © 2022 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hey, my name is Chris Brennan and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Saturday, December 18th, 2021, starting sometime just after 2:00 PM in Denver, Colorado. And this is the 234th episode of the show. Today I’m going to be talking with Kent Bye about astrology and virtual reality. Kent is the host of the Voices of Virtual Reality Podcast.
KENT BYE: Yeah, thanks for having me on the show here, Chris.
CB: Yeah, thanks for flying out to Denver. You’re actually my first guest that I’ve flown out to Denver in order to do this interview in person. So thanks a lot for joining me today.
KB: Yeah, it’s a pleasure to be here.
CB: We’re going to talk about astrology and virtual reality today and the interaction between those two fields and the ways in which in the future they might be coming together or combined or used in interesting ways. I wanted to spend some time first talking about your background in both technology and virtual reality and also astrology, and some of our sort of shared backgrounds since we go back aways, I think about a decade at this point. And then we’ll talk a little bit about the history of virtual reality and how it relates to astrology and then maybe make some projections for the future. How does that sound to you?
KB: Sounds great.
CB: All right, cool. So let’s start with just how we know each other. So we actually met at a Northwest astrology conference, I think, in Seattle in what, 2009?
KB: Yeah, it was 2009. I had just previously in that previous March of 2009, I had started the first Drupal Voices. At the time I was working at a company called Lullabot and I went to the DrupalCon and did a bunch of interviews at a conference. My partner at the time was really interested in astrology and I really suggested her to go to a conference. And because I didn’t really know a lot about astrology, I also wanted to go there and I ended up doing a number of different interviews with astrologers at the Northwest Astrology Conference in 2009. And over the past 10 years following that, I’ve probably done anywhere from like 300 to 400 interviews with astrologers. And it was on a number of different podcasts, but once I started into virtual reality, I kind of really focused on VR more so than that Esoteric Voices podcast. But we met, and I think I did an interview with you back in 2009. I remember you were giving presentation there at NORWAC and I had to kind of… You were still preparing at the very last second, so I had to really convince you to pause and take a moment. I just remember being very struck with how you were very much into more of the deterministic side of astrology. I guess my orientation has always been just very curious, just trying to understand from more of an anthropological but also philosophical perspective what this was. So yeah, over the years I’ve just had a chance to talk to lots of different astrologers and I think still today there’s a lot of things that I don’t quite understand about it, but it also is asking a lot of really interesting questions, which I think keeps me interested into it.
CB: Yeah. That was really interesting because you were coming at it not as an astrologer, you had a partner who is an astrologer and she was really the astrology person. But you right away jumped into the deep end by going to a conference where you’re surrounded by astrologers and your natural curiosity was such that you started doing interviews with a handheld voice recorder and a microphone with 20 or 30 astrologers at that conference.
KB: Yeah, and continued for pretty much every year for about a decade or so, going back to a number of different events each year. So yeah, I have quite an oral history of the evolution of astrology from a time period where it was at the beginning, it was still on the fringes and really quite taboo within the larger culture, which was interesting as to why these people would be into something that was so taboo all the way up into, whereas almost like, you know, cross the chasm into becoming a lot more popular in the mainstream.
CB: Yeah. I mean, you saw the resurgence of traditional astrology and also just the sudden massive rise in astrology, especially the younger generations over the past few years, which gives you an interesting vantage point because you were interviewing astrologers at conferences before that as well as after. So yeah, and it’s interesting because you became an astrologer over the past decade, but coming in not initially from that vantage point, gives you an interesting perspective I think on things.
KB: Yeah, I was really attracted to astrologers like Richard Tarnas and the Cosmos and Psyche, that kind of archetypal cosmology and really tracking transits. And I ended up actually kind of making my own astrology tracking software at this website called nataltransits.com. I was going through a lot of my Pluto square Pluto and I was going through a lot of tumultuous experiences in my life and I wanted to be able to match what was happening in my life with the outer planet transits. So I guess of all the different things that works within astrology, I think the outer planet transits are probably some of the more compelling aspects, especially in individual, but also in the collective scale. And what was so I guess impressive for me for kind of looking into someone like Tarnas’s work is that he was able to really bridge these gaps between first with The Passion of the Western Mind to start to lay down underlying platonic foundations of astrology, but also kind of the depth psychological perspective, but also getting into Cosmos and Psyche looking to see how the psychedelic therapies really influenced him. Because he was really trying to figure out what were the things that were almost like the Rosetta Stone of the psyche for he was trying to figure out when people were going to have a transformative experience, was that going to be able to be predicted and the content of the character of that experience was that going to be able to be predicted? And the only thing that was able to do that was astrology. And at the time, Tarnas recounts this as that being way more controversial than LSD. So I think that approach of that archetypal approach has been a big influence on me, but also that philosophical approach, because I feel like although Tarnas was able to lay down a lot of the philosophical foundations, there’s still quite a lot of work to be done in terms of really putting astrology on a strong footing, metaphysically, but also to kind of match up to the modern cosmology and those larger discussions.
CB: Yeah. And then also something you’ve focused on also from Tarnas’s work is just his work on outer planet cycles and how that’s aligned. What drew your interest, I think, was their alignments with technology and a major emergence of new technologies and changes in technology over history.
KB: Yeah, I think the approach from Tarnas usually takes a look at, say, a diachronic cycle between two outer planetary configurations and see how there’s like almost Hegelian dialectic where there’s a thesis, antithesis, and a synthesis. And then if you want to look at kind of a philosophy of history, that you could start to look at these dialectics over time through the lens of these outer planet transits, which ends up being a really interesting lens into history, it almost creates this like spatial memory palace to be able to understand when things happened and how they are kind of leading into the next epoch. And when I look at technology in particular, there’s not a clear diachronic cycling. Meaning you can’t just pick one, say Uranus or Pluto and kind of describe all of what’s happening within technology. You kind of have to look at the whole picture, which I think it provides, I guess, a challenge for kind of conceptually understanding when there are cycles of a lot of activity and kind of the summer, metaphorical summer, and then sometimes there’s a winter of the technology. And so sometimes there’s these big waves that come, and understanding when those waves come can usually only happen after it’s all happened and you’re looking back in hindsight. So it’s a bit of a historical process to kind of do that, of looking back into the past to understand where things have been and maybe start to project into the future. And there’s certain aspects of the astrological approach that does that. Yeah, go ahead.
CB: So you have a quote in a talk that you’ve given that you like on this from [unintelligible], right?
KB: This is from Richard Tarnas. This was from a presentation he was giving actually that was called creating the future through understanding the past. So the quote is, “It is really true what philosophy tells us that life must be understood backwards. But with this one forgets the second proposition that it must be lived forwards.” I think this is kind of the existential dilemma is that the more time that goes on you are able to look back upon historical events and understand the deeper patterns. But the challenge is to understand what’s going to happen in the future. And that’s in some ways what the archetypal cosmology proposes that it might be possible to do. It’s still as Tarnas says it’s not concretely predictive, but more archetypally predictive. So there’s sort of a range of different archetypal potentials that you could say things are going to kind of happen in this sort of realm, but we don’t know exactly what. And to me, probably the most striking thing from Cosmos and Psyche the book is his chapters on Saturn and Pluto, reading those chapters and then understanding what happened with the pandemic and seeing how those were really correlated, but to kind of look into the past of those cycles to kind of understand what has happened now.
CB: Yeah. And one from history in terms of technology I know you focused on a lot is the invention of the Gutenberg printing press, right?
KB: Yeah. I mean, if you want to start to look at an epoch between say Neptune and Saturn, which is around a 494-year cycle or so.
CB: Saturn or Pluto?
KB: For Neptune and Pluto. So if I said Saturn, sorry. So that’s a 494-year cycle and that’s around like 1387 or so, and then goes up to the early 1900 or so. But if you look at that when the Gutenberg press happened, it was within the context very soon after that. And you can kind of jump into the 1880s until like 2400 and see kind of the equivalent of what’s happening in this era, which is a lot of these computing technologies and electricity.
CB: What was significant about the printing press for those that don’t know?
KB: Well, the printing press was really, I guess, taking books and being able to do mass production of those books, which then kind of led to all sorts of things, including like the enlightenment and reformation and just kind of culturally, it was the ability for people to start to capture information and knowledge into books and be able to distribute it at a massive scale. And when you had that, you start to have other shifts in culture by being able to communicate different ideas and to spread knowledge in that way. So I guess that. And Marshall McLuhan also looked back at the Gutenberg press as he was going through all these different, new communication media in the 20th century, and then starting to see the similarities of how these new communication media that we’ve had over the last hundred plus years are all kind of in this continuation of finding new ways of rather than capturing information knowledge, I kind of see these existing communication technologies as more and more being able to capture elements of the human experience, which I think is kind of a progression from radio and television all the way to cinema into the computing technologies, video game technologies, and then kind of the culmination of all those things with virtual and augmented reality kind of combining all those things together.
CB: Okay. So you published an article just a few years ago in 2017 that was on astrology and virtual reality. And this was a pretty landmark piece because I hadn’t seen anybody write a piece that comprehensive both in terms of contextualizing virtual reality as this emerging thing over the course of the past decade, but also taking it back in terms of when some of those ideas first got started. And one of your starting points was the 1960s and the major outer planet conjunction that occurred then, right?
KB: Yeah. So that was from 1960 to 1972 was Uranus square Pluto. And there was a couple of configuration of Jupiter that came in with an opposition in the beginning in ’62, and then in ’68 there was a conjunction. But if you look at that–
CB: Of Uranus and Pluto?
KB: Uranus and Pluto, yeah. So if you looked at the Uranus square Pluto of that time period, there was a lot of like say taking human computer interaction with different aspects, starting with 1962, there was Ivan Sutherland with the Sketchpad. And then eventually at the end of the decade, there was both the augmented reality head mounted displays that he had created. He wrote an article in 1965 where he was kind of thinking about what would be possible if you started to use these technologies and started to track the motion of your head. He was talking about how you’d be able to kind of enter into a mathematical wonderland of rather than looking at computing technology as a window, it was like you were entering into a portal into another world. And this is back in the sixties, at the very beginning of computing technologies. And then he presented The Sword of Damocles in 1968 at the Joint Fall Computer Conference. And that was at same time where there was the mother of all demos that was being presented, which was Douglas Engelbart’s famous demo where he demonstrated everything from a computer mouse to video conferencing and vision control and hypertext links and basically the whole roadmap of all the technological things for the next 50 plus years, was all kind of contained within that mother of all demos. But at the same time was the birth of like virtual augmented reality, which was with the Sword of Damocles.
CB: So here’s that conjunction, for example, in the sixties, it was Uranus and Pluto were lining up in a conjunction in the sign of Virgo. And that’s usually often associated with things like some of the civil rights movement, some of the women’s rights movement, but also just there were major shifts in technology taking place during the course of that decade.
KB: Yeah, sort of the Iranian impulse, I know that Tarnas has talked a lot about the Prometheus’s kind of the myth that bringing the fire from the gods and so that Uranus as it came into contact with the square with Pluto, which Pluto was kind of the elemental depths of transformation and kind of just an intensity, so you add that intensity with that sort of spirit of innovation and change and liberation and you get everything that was happening in the sixties with the music and all the sort of liberation movements from black liberation and women’s rights and gay rights and environmental justice movements. But at the same time, we had a lot of things that were happening on the realm of these gatherings that were happening for computing technologies and kind of improving out a lot of the future of human computer interactions for how we’re going to interface with computers. So that was kind of the seed that from there it kind of moved in into eventually home computers. But I feel like for virtual reality, it kind of went underground. It was being used in the military, but it wasn’t necessarily like a consumer market until later in the next wave.
CB: And what was the initial prototype?
KB: It was the Sword of Damocles, so this is Ivan Sutherland created in like 1968 or so. And then presented at the Joint Fall Computer Conference, December of 2018. Sorry if I said 2018, 1968.
CB: Okay. So 1968 is very close to the exact conjunction of Uranus and Pluto, right?
KB: Yeah, yeah. Tarnas when he looks at these 15 degree orbs, actually 10 degree orbs for the squares. So that puts it starting around 1916 ending in 1972, but there are a number of exact passes that were happening as well.
CB: Right. So he uses 15 degree orbs for conjunctions like the Uranus Pluto, right?
KB: Yeah. Well, for a square though, he used 10 degrees.
CB: What square?
KB: It was the Uranus square Pluto. Oh no, sorry, that was conjunction. So that was 15 degrees, so yeah.
CB: Right, okay. So 15 degrees for conjunctions and 10 degrees for squares. And so that 10 degree range or 15 degree range from the exact conjunction gives a timeframe of what again?
KB: 1960 to 1972.
CB: Okay. So we find one of the interesting things that you find and emphasize is the first initial prototype, essentially in 1968 of virtual reality.
KB: Yeah, you look at it, and it was really kind of ahead of its time in a lot of ways, but kind of taking this breakthrough innovation. And then the paper that he wrote from 1965, that was actually what [unintelligible 16.54] discovered back in the nineties and kind of rediscovering some that work that happened in the sixties. And so that was kind of the next wave that had started from 1985 into the end of 2001 or so. So this sort of shows the different waves and the different astrological… Oh, actually that’s not [crosstalk 17.20] So the Uranus conjunct Pluto, that was happening from like 1960.
CB: So one of the ways you visualize, and we’re going to show a visual for the video viewers right now, but we were talking about this last night when you got into town about how I’ve been using the Archetypal Explorer graphs that show things like a wave that peaks at the exact conjunction or the exact aspect, and then declines as the two planets move further away from each other. But one of the things, one of the ways that you like to present the data is more as a block of time that has like a starting point of when the configuration of the alignment comes into effect and like an ending point. So that instead of something that’s seen as like peaking or only being operative in some ways at the exact conjunction, considering it to be more like a block of time.
KB: Yeah. I think methodologically, this is a challenge of something like Tarnas’s work of archetypal cosmology because there can be a tendency to try to almost like a confirmation bias of selecting the data that’s going to fit into those little buckets of time. So I think that’s sort of a challenge of how do you make sure that you’re kind of aligning with what the story actually is and not sort of telling a story that’s very fixed into what those time periods are. And I think that’s why my approach, I like to do with a lot of oral history with just kind of talking to a lots of different people and seeing what the natural waves are coming based upon the experiences of people within the community. And so anecdotally, as you talk to people within the virtual reality community, they talk about these different waves that come in and out. It started in the sixties, there was a big wave in the nineties and then from 2012 until the present day. But those waves happen to be correlated to these other outer planet transits. And so for me, usually with Tarnas’s work, you pick one of those astrological transits and you kind of trace it through time to see how it evolves. But I feel like there’s something about technology in the past hundred years that you almost have to look at it holistically across all these different, not only aspects, but to look at everything from the turn of the century with electricity coming into being, and then all the other subsequent communication media that happened after that. But in terms of just looking at virtual reality, you can kind of start to focus on those three periods.
CB: Yeah. But that’s an important point that one of your points is that people that are in technology or in virtual reality already talk about these very distinctive waves of when this stuff has like come into vogue or ideas have come in and then when the wave sort of crashes and declines. And so there’s already a tendency just in the normal discourse about, let’s say, just VR in and of itself to talk about it in terms of waves. But the astrology actually gives you a framework where it actually tends to coincide with those waves. And that’s just that in and of itself is just really simple observation as an astrologer, obvious observation as astrologer has major implications for cosmology and things like that if it’s true that the astrology or the planetary alignments do actually coincide with those technological or social waves.
KB: Yeah, there seems to be something with looking at Tarnas’s work where at the collective scale, and I’m not sure, have you watched The Foundation at all? There’s a whole concepts of psychohistory, which is basically the same thing of archetypal cosmology, but in science fiction, talking about how… It’s on Apple right now, folks can check it out. But that concept of psychohistory is very similar to archetypal cosmology, meaning that you can kind of see these things that are happening at a collective scale and you look at these waves of potential that somehow come forth through these different cultural artifacts, whether that’s movies or music, but also through new technological products that are kind of reflecting, maybe a deeper archetypal patterning. So what I think is interesting as we move forward, it’s still yet to be seen because we’re still very early relative to where this may all go. The value of this may be as we start to look at what may be some of the underlying archetypal character of the technology, as we look at the correspondences and their kind of acausal correspondences according to Jung or they could be formal causation according to kind of Aristotelian. There’s a substrate of these potentials that may be somehow mysteriously interfacing with the fabric of reality that we don’t quite understand yet. So that’s more from a mathematical formal causation, but whether you think it’s acausal synchronicity or sort of a formal causation, there is some deeper patterning that’s happening at a collective scale that has these distinct movements that happen throughout human history. And I feel like the birth of the internet that happened, the worldwide web in particular, in the second wave that from 1985 to 2001–
CB: So let’s talk about this. So the first block showing this visual or just describing it for the audio listeners is a block of time that starts in 1960 and goes to 1972, that is the Uranus-Pluto conjunction. So that’s what we were talking about earlier, right?
KB: Correct, yeah.
CB: The next one is what?
KB: The next one is the Uranus conjunct Neptune, which is like this was when a lot of the worldwide web started to really take off, and you had a lot of the beginnings of what was first and originally called cyberspace and surfing the web.
CB: So that went exact in 1992 and 1993, the Uranus-Neptune conjunction, but the entire range of operative “influence” is what?
KB: From 1985 to 2001. And so we start to see a lot of the early, moving from that early prototype of the duct tape academic prototype of the Sword of Damocles in the sixties, moving into this next phase is sort of the consumer enterprise application of virtual reality through Jaron Lanier starting to bring through like VPL research and these other virtual reality video games that started to get into different applications. And I think also seen by different science fiction authors like Neal Stephenson, who saw all this movement with virtual reality and there was quite a buzz and a hype, people were really excited about the potential of these virtual worlds, which then led to science fiction like Snow Crash talking about the metaverse.
CB: Or some movies actually like Lawnmower Man was what, 1992.
KB: Yeah, March of 1992.
CB: What was the premise of that again? It’s been a while since I watched it.
KB: It was originally a Stephen King novel, but it was adapted quite significantly, where somebody kind of gets into virtual reality and there’s a bit of a alchemical twist where he kind of gets his consciousness opened up in a certain way and there’s kind of a dark turn. So it’s kind of a horror film in a way, but what was interesting is that it actually was using the VPL technologies of both the Power Glove and the VR technologies, and probably is the most accurate depiction of what the future of video games would kind of be like and feel like taking from a very crude imagination and what was available with computer graphics back then, but then kind of projecting out into the continued evolution of computing technologies with GPUs and CPUs as they continue to improve. Eventually we’ll get to a much more fully consumer version of that in the next wave. But in this wave, there was a lot of visions for what might be possible. But it was still it was very expensive. It cost millions of dollars to get access to some of this. And so it was more kind of proof of concepts that were inspiring different other pieces of literature that was then kind of telling the story of say the metaverse, which is this dream of being able to embody yourself within a virtual world and go into all these different places, which has been kind of a seed of leading to other things that would kind of start to unfold later on in other cycles.
CB: Yeah. And with that Uranus-Neptune conjunction which you said lasted or was within orb of the 15 degree orb all the way through 2001, we also saw I think in 1999 was like The Matrix and also the 13th Floor, which both dealt with similar things in terms of virtual reality and sometimes maybe the issue of not being able to distinguish between the two are blurring of the lines between reality for versus virtual reality.
KB: Yeah, there’s also a correspondence between, we’ve been looking at mostly the Uranus conjunct Neptune, but there was also a sequence of both Saturn conjunct Neptune and Uranus conjunct Neptune that started in 1988 for the Uranus conjunct Neptune and in 1989 was the Saturn conjunct Neptune. So both of those, I think, were kind of as you move forward planting a lot of different seeds from say like 1989 was the Game Boy, and then 1999 was the Blackberry with these are looking at sort of the first for the Saturn conjunct Neptune and then this Saturn square Neptune, and that sort of first quarter square of Saturn square Neptune was when The Matrix also came out. So the principles of Saturn were all the basis of reality being grounded in reality and the Neptunian principle of being able to blur different aspects of reality and kind of go into this imaginal space. But there’s also elements of disillusion that can be Neptunian as well. So there’s both positive and negative aspects, but in this case, in The Matrix, it’s all about being disillusioned, of being in a world that’s not actually the world that you’re living in, which also saw movies like the Truman Show and The City Dark, which also the similar themes of kind of living in a realm that has elements of simulation that were not quite what they seemed
CB: Right, or surveillance and things like that. So it’s interesting you mentioned the Game Boy, because one of the things we’ve talked about when you’re studying different pieces of history is that there’s all sorts of different pieces of technology that start at different times and sometimes have a different backdrop or a different astrological signature for it based on when they come out and what the alignments are at that time. But now what’s happening with virtual reality in the past decade is many different sort of technologies are all coalescing in order to make it possible in the current wave of virtual reality, I think. Because you have not just graphics, but also like mobile graphics or mobile phones, the ability to put everything, not just in the computer, but in the headset or social networks or the internet or motion sensors or other things like that, which were sometimes like separate or discreet technologies in earlier eras, but that are all now coalescing into one.
KB: Yeah. It might be worth bringing up one of the graphics of the evolution of the sort of the tech diffusion. Yeah, this graphic here. Yeah, so this is a graphic that’s showing how technology has diffused over the past hundred years. And you see that at the turn of the century, we have the growth of different things like electricity, and then from there eventually we start to have television starts to originally come up in the fifties, it doesn’t have black and white television on this particular graph, but you can start to see how as things come out, it takes time for it to go from just a small percentage of people and to more and more larger groups of people. And so you have things from this past hundred years starting with electricity and then electricity building upon that, then you start to have the radio and then you have different aspects of television and then the computing technologies and just looking at whole different ranges of like eventually into different like the computer and… So I guess the point here is just that there’s a lot of different ways in which that as you continue to move through these different phases, they’re all kind of building on top of each other.
CB: Right, and sometimes intersecting. So we’re looking at the graph shows things like the introduction of the telephone, electricity, what else? The stove, the radio, eventually clothes washer, clothes dryer, microwave, air conditioning, computer, cell phone, VCR, internet, and all of those things that start at different points and have their own sort of trajectory, but then eventually, sometimes intersect in order to create something new.
KB: Yeah, and I’d say the critique around the archetypal cosmology is that there’s not like a single cycle that explains all those different things. So even thoughthere may be some correlations across virtual reality technologies in general, when you look at the whole spectrum of the whole hundred years, there’s not anything that’s specifically clear. You go to the graphic that has from sort of the first quarter square of Neptune and Pluto. I think it’s one more, yeah, here. So if you show this here, so this is, I think in terms of from 1880 to say 2073, you have in the turn of the century of 1880, you have this new epoch, that’s the beginning of a new Neptune conjunct Pluto. And that to the first quarter square is until like 2073. So from that time period is a good kind of bracketing between what we’ve seen over the last hundred plus years. And there may be certain correlations where like the beginning of television technologies were kind of at the Uranus square Neptune that happened in the fifties as an example. So there may be moments when certain technologies are really sort of going viral and taking off and going from a low percentage, but over the course of a number of years, penetrating out into society. Another example of that would be cell phone technology that happened during the nineties, where not so many people had cell phones in the beginning of say that cycle of Uranus conjunct Neptune starting in 1985. But by the end of that, we have lots of people up to like 60% or so, according to one of those graphs. So that’s setting the stage for the iPhone that eventually came out back in 2007, which is correlated to a quadrant or cycle or the opposition of the Saturn opposite of Neptune that happened later. So you can start to see some correlations, but it’s difficult to get a coherent story of all of technology. So what I find helpful is to start to use astrological approach to see if there are stories or archetypal unfoldings that happen through the launching of specific technologies over time.
CB: One of the things this graph reminds me of is that one of the things you do that’s unique about your work is you like to visualize the data as much as possible and bringing in a visual component to purely what are otherwise sometimes presented as numerical numbers or like time ranges is something you’ve focused on quite a bit.
KB: Yeah. And the way that this specific visualization is set up is trying to actually kind of stack things on top of each other. So you can see at the turn of the century, there’s quite a lot of other transits that happen to be all combining together, which when you have the combination of multiple outer planet transits all coming together, then you start to have like big shifts and changes.
CB: Much more in crucial turning points when you see like a bunch of planets hitting angular important cycles or pivotal cycles.
KB: Yeah. And I think that’s always the challenge when you start to look at some of these different techniques as to what things going to be attributable to whatever is happening. So I do think there is some way in which these things are combining together that we can’t always necessarily isolate. But I think the approach of Tarnas to be able to look at these different cycles, I think is interesting to be able to start to look at what is otherwise an in differentiated set of events. If you go to Wikipedia and search for the history of computing, you may get a lot of dates for when something happened, but it’s a lot different than knowing what the deeper story was in terms of what actually was taking root or what was inspiring the next thing or what was the thing that really took it from being just a small idea into really taking off. So I feel like when looking at it through the lens of some of these archetypal cosmology windows, you can maybe start to piece together some of those different deeper stories, but all of history is about trying to look into the past and take a bunch of different facts and piece together the deeper story. The archetypal astrology has the advantage of having the characterizations of the different planetary archetypes that allow you to help potentially tell different aspects of that story. And so as we continue to go on and talk about VR, we’ll have an opportunity to kind of project out into the future and to see how what we might expect at certain time periods and whether or not those come true or not is sort of the job of the futurist to try to determine what has happened in the past and kind of determine what has happened in the future. And the real validity of that will be known when that actually happens and if it comes to pass and it’s useful or not.
CB: Yeah, and that’s always been one of the core techniques, predictive techniques of how to use astrology predictively is that if you study the past and you identify the cycles, the planetary cycles that have correlated with key turning points in the past, then that’ll give you the context and the trajectory, which then you can project out in the future and say when that same cycle reoccurs then there should be this manifestation. So you can actually potentially predict the future to some extent based on understanding the cycles that have happened in the past.
KB: Yeah. But I think there’s always a gap. There’s always a gap because there’s always a mystery. There’s always a lot of unknowns, and there’s a lot of things that like Tarnas says you can make archetypal predictions, but not concrete predictions. So nowhere in Cosmos and Psyche does Tarnas say there’s going to be a pandemic in 2020, but there’s a lot of ways in which he sort of describes archetypal character of coming up into boundaries and dealing with lots of death and a lot of limitations and kind of a new way, a new order in which the society has run that has happened in the past with previous world wars and the war on terror and previous crises with the AIDS crisis.
CB: Which was a pandemic. I mean, he spent a lot of time talking about the AIDS pandemic with the 1981 Saturn-Pluto conjunction. And so there was an inference there in studying the past that the recurrence of cycles like that could coincide with things like the future, which while archetypally predictive for sure does have some pretty concrete ranges of manifestation.
KB: Yeah. You can pick a range of things that were likely to happen, but to say specifically what’s going to happen, especially when you start to combine things of like say what happened with the Saturn-Pluto conjunction with the pandemic kind of that being the primary signature, how that was going to impact the unfolding of virtual reality. So that was certainly a big part as I was looking at trying to imagine what was going to happen predicting the future. I kind of wanted to wait until after 2020, because I didn’t quite know how this new cycle of Saturn and Pluto were going to necessarily play out. And it turned out to be in some ways a lot of constriction and who knows how long the pandemic is going to be with us, but given the timing of when it happened and what some epidemiologists have already started to say is that it could be an endemic thing that we’re kind of living with. So it’s kind of a new reality that maybe setting a deeper context for what happens as virtual reality continues to unfold over time, especially if the possibilities for traveling or meeting face to face are constrained or limited due to this larger context of what’s happening with the Saturn-Pluto complex.
CB: Right. Yeah, for sure. We saw a lot of major changes in technology last year as a result of that with, for example, everybody flocking to Zoom, and Zoom is something had taken off with astrologers a few years prior because it was such a big improvement over Skype and had better video quality and recording capabilities like built in from the start. And so last year it was funny to see like suddenly everybody’s using Zoom when the lockdowns took place because as it was a way to connect with people both for like work and school and like socially and astrology meetings were being held and podcasts and everything else.
KB: Yeah. It’s certainly been an accelerant when it comes to the need for having remote work technologies, but also there’s limitations for Zoom in terms of what type of interactions you can have say in a group dynamic. It’s great if there’s one person talking, it’s one discussion, but if you want to have kind of the feeling of a cocktail party or being able to run into people and have a very specific discussion, then that’s where some of the different virtual reality technologies start to have… They start to do better jobs at some of those things. But as we move forward and we look at how this continues to unfold, then looking at how there’s almost like these sets of nested contexts and determining what’s the baseline context that’s going to set everything else. Saturn-Pluto is also our connection to the earth and environmental justice in different ways and the degrees to which we’re maybe destroying the planet. And so there may be ways in which that we’re not in right relationship with the world around us, and that by looking at the reducing of travel and the changes of behavior, that there’s certainly been a positive ecological impact in that way. But there has to also be ways in which that over time ensuring that whatever we talk about any of these technologies, if we don’t live in right relationship to the world around us, then we will destroy ourselves. There’s a possibility for us using the virtually mediated types of experiences to be able to replace our need from destroying and extracting different substances from the earth to be able to have like a virtually mediated experience. And so there’s a potential that having these sort of virtually mediated technologies can have in a long term more ecological impact. But I think that’s as I start to look as things continue to unfold looking at sort of baseline things of our relationship to the earth, deeper economic inequities and how do those continue to play out and are we creating systems that are making the rich richer? And so yeah, anything we start to look at these things, those are some of the deeper context. And then from there looking at how the culture and then the laws and the economy and then architecture is able to kind of have this feedback loop that’s all feeding into each other and shaping how all this unfolds.
CB: Yeah, so let’s get into virtual reality and what makes it different compared to Zoom then in that context. And one of the things that’s really striking about it that I know you emphasize is the notion that it’s a more embodied experience that you could have. And it’s really hard though, I think, to convey what that actually means, because it’s one of those things similar to astrology we were talking about last night that you can’t understand until you experience it. And I find that parallel to be really interesting as we were talking about last night.
KB: Yeah. You can kind of talk until you’re blue in the face trying to describe to somebody what it feels like to be tricked into believing and some level having the illusion that you’re in another world and that world is real. It’s kind of trippy, until you have that experience, you don’t know what the quality of that experience actually feels like.
CB: That’s a very astrological, a Neptunian-type experience.
KB: Well, in philosophy, there’s also the concept of qualia, which is sort of what the language is describing, what the experience is as contrasted to the embodied experience of that. And so I’m not sure if it’d be necessarily connected to Neptune in particular, I think it’s a dialectic between your direct embodied experience of more of earth element of your sensory experiences that you’re taking in and also kind of the air element aspects of creating mental constructs between understanding those realities.
CB: Right. So you connect that embodied thing to the four elements in astrology. Do you have a graph for that?
KB: Yeah, there’s… Yeah, here you go.
CB: Oh, is that it?
KB: One more, yeah, there you go.
CB: What do you call this again?
KB: So, yeah, there’s just different types of presence that you have. I think not only within virtually mediated technologies, but also within the world itself. If you think about sort of the aspects of active presence of being able to express your agency and action in the world through your motor cortex and movement and different behaviors and motivations that you have, that’s like that fire element of the active presence. And then the air element of mental and social presence are all the ways that you make mental abstractions of the world, of using language to be able to not only make sense of the world around you, but also to communicate through the abstractions of language with other people. So being able to have that, both the mental plausibility in this mental model of the world, but also to be able to communicate with people. So that sense of mental presence and social presence. And then the water element is a lot of the building and releasing of tension through kind of engaging your emotions. And that’s often through stories or through music or lighting or mood just being committed to the characters in a way. So that’s emotional presence that really makes you feel immersed within an experience. And then the earth element is a lot around embodied and environmental presence. And so the degree to which you have your body within the experience and you have all your sensory input that’s coming in, and then from there, you’re able to feel like you have a virtual representation of your body, but also that the world that you’re in feels real and that you actually feel like you’re transported into that world. So the aspects of virtual reality technologies are all talking about these aspects of presence that are kind of particular to that virtually mediated technologies, but also unique we also experience these degrees of presence in our lives day to day as we engage in different experiences. And they’re all kind of happening at the same time and they’re kind of channel switching and there’s different experiences that are modulating things with each other. But yeah, you had your own ability to kind of be immersed within virtual reality. And we have been talking about it in the abstract, but I think actually being immersed within those virtual worlds to actually have that experience to understand what it feels like to kind of be immersed within these worlds that are able to kind of either achieve a certain level of social presence, so talking to other people or whether you’re playing Beat Saber and feel like you’re actually taking action and your actions are actually impacting the world in a certain way with the actual presence or feeling really immersed either in a story or with music. And then also having a body representation, a virtual body ownership illusion of actually believing that you have this virtual embodiment within an experience.
CB: So two things, one, this is one of the ways that you’ve taken some concepts from astrology such as the use of the classical four elements from Greek philosophy. And you’ve taken some of those archetypal structures or schemes or philosophical schemes and used them in the context to try to describe things in virtual reality in ways in which you’re integrating and borrowing concepts from one and taking it into the other.
KB: Yeah. And I’d say the elements actually go back to Empedocles and then Aristotle. So it’s actually a part of the Western philosophical tradition. It’s not kind of unique to just astrology. The Hermetic traditions certainly picked it up. And it’s also not unique to the Western philosophy, it’s also another within Indian philosophy and other traditions around the world. So I feel like it’s not necessarily specific to astrology per se. However, the Hermetic tradition does have a lot of specific insights about these different elements. And I think in also Chinese philosophy from the yang and the yin, you can sort of collapse both the fire and the air into more yang elements of expressing your energy outward and the earth and the water being the more yin aspect of more receptive. And I think this sort of dialectical approach of both the yang and the yin are kind of primary for any type of contrast within all experiential design. So if you want to talk about the underlying principles, it’s the underlying dialectic. And the elements happen to be two dialectics between hot and cold and wet and dry. And so it sort of creates a quadrature of the four aspects, but you could do triadic approaches or dialectic approaches to also look at how to discern different elements of contrast. So my approach generally is very pluralistic, meaning I sort of borrow from lots of different traditions. I don’t feel like any one tradition is able to kind of describe all the nature of consciousness or experience. And also part of my practice has been to listen to the community and to hear what people are talking about. So it was coming from talking to experiential designers and how they were talking about aspects of agency and how there’s this tension between agency and story whenever you talk about, are you passively receiving the story or are you actively engaging within an experience and expressing your will into it? Which is sort of a dialectic between the water element more passive receptive of the story versus the fire element of agency. And for me, when I try to boil down experiential design to the core elements, there’s a dialectical process. And it just so happens that astrology happens to take a very process relational and dialectical process as well.
CB: Okay. So going back to the opening of your article and what was the title of your article from 2017? It was published in the Archive Journal, right?
KB: It was the archetypal cycles of virtual reality. So looking at these from an archetypal cosmology approach trying to see if there are cycles that are emerging. We have one cycle between what happened at the first wave from Uranus conjunct Pluto, and then the Uranus square Pluto that happened from say 2007 to 2020 is sort of the third wave, which kind of brings us to the modern era of the resurgence of virtual reality as a medium.
CB: Right. So I want to quote one of your opening sentences that was really striking and is tied into what we’re talking about right now. You say virtual reality is a new immersive computing paradigm that can hack our senses and convince our brains that computer-generated experiences are real which raises fundamental questions about our understanding of reality. And I think that point is really important because that’s hard to convey to anyone because it sounds very abstract until you have an experience of it. So last night we stayed up late working on this outline, and it was all looking very well and good. And then you kind of forced me, not forced me, but encouraged me to wear your headset, your VR headset that you brought with you, which is an Oculus. What is it that you call it?
KB: Well, it’s Oculus Quest 2, but it’s been rebranded as the Meta Quest 2. But people still call it the Oculus Quest because that’s what it was launched as. Well, anyway, so yeah, it’s the Meta Quest 2 you could say.
CB: Which is the one that’s owned by what used to be called Facebook?
KB: Now Meta, yeah. They rebranded themselves to be a metaverse company. So they changed from Facebook to Meta in October 2021.
CB: Yeah, in October when Jupiter and Saturn stationed direct in Aquarius. And that was actually the starting point of me realizing there was a major shift taking place and I needed to start paying more attention to this. So that led to the series of starting to look into more and starting to pay more attention after many years of not as I’ve talked about in recent podcasts. Like the one I did with Adam Summer just a few episodes ago because I was into Second Life in the mid-2000s, which was, what would you call that? It’s not like a virtual reality thing.
KB: It’s a virtual world.
CB: A virtual world, okay. Especially during the Saturn-Neptune opposition between Leo and Aquarius around like 2006, 2007, which I think was probably maybe the high point of use of that platform. So I was into it, but I hadn’t paid that much attention for a long time. So I started paying attention again because I noticed that astrological alignment and how significant it was between Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius and Facebook changing its name to Meta, signaling a really major shift to have such a huge company clearly gearing up for something that they think is the next big wave and starting to move towards it. So anyways, long story short, we did the headset last night and you gave me my probably second embodied experience of VR. The last time I had done that was a number of years ago at an astrology conference using one of your earlier versions of one of those headsets, which was a bit more basic.
KB: Yeah, it was probably Oculus Rift DK1 or DK2. I think I went to an astrology conference and showed lots of astrologers Titans of Space, which was kind of zooming around the solar system.
CB: What year do you think that was? 2015?
KB: 2014 or 2015, yeah. Probably 2014.
CB: Yeah, and it was kind of interesting. It was a little bit basic, more basic back then. It was like a tour of the planets or a tour of space. And then last night we did a demo with a few different things, and I immediately realized that the technology had progressed way more than I had realized over the course of the past decade since that first version of the Oculus headset. And many different technologies had converged all of a sudden where it was actually successful within a matter of seconds in like tricking my senses into having the experience or as you said, like an embodied experience of being in another virtual world.
KB: Yeah. Mel Slater is a neuroscientist within the VR community and he talks about these two illusions, the place illusion, so feeling like you’re in another place and that place is real, and the plausibility illusion is that your mind believes that that it’s plausible and that you’re actually there, but it’s an illusion. It doesn’t make you feel like you’re actually there, there’s still a part of you that knows you’re not actually there, but there’s enough to kind of trick your sensory experiences into thinking that those things are real. And David Chalmers actually has a book that’s going to be coming out that is talking about some of the philosophical implications of VR. And he has this sort of virtual or real questions where he talks about if you have a virtual experience, is that a real experience or is it because it’s mediated through the virtual technologies then is it not so real? Or these objects, are these objects real or are they not real? So it kind of goes through a series of question and trying to really interrogate the degree to which that something is real or not. And I think there are experiences that I’ve had mediated through virtual technologies that feel just as real and just as meaningful as any other experiences I’ve had. So then it starts to bring up these larger metaphysical questions as what is the nature of reality and what is real and what isn’t? And just even the word virtual versus the real sort of has embedded into it an assumption of substance metaphysics, meaning that the nature of reality is made up out of concrete stuff. And that the real reality is that stuff that you can touch and have this physical reaction hapticly, but there’s things that are more simulated that because it’s mediated given through our senses, then there’s ways that we are interpreting that that’s not as real, which then starts to question, what is consciousness? Are these virtually mediated things just as real? And it’s led me to other alternative metaphysical approaches of say process-relational metaphysics, which is trying to look at how the underlying nature of reality are based made upon these building blocks processes and relationships, which I think Tarnas talks about within Cosmos and Psyche as being a potential alternative, cosmological foundation, which then Becca Tarnas has actually written an article within Archive Journal suggesting that maybe Whitehead’s approach of process-relational metaphysics is more of a stronger philosophical foundation for the basis for what astrology is and why it works. And so I feel like when you start to look at these questions of consciousness, what is real, what is not real, you start to move into these realms of metaphysics, are we living in a simulation as another popular manifestation of that? But for me, it’s led to kind of having more of questions around reductive materialism, physicalism and substance metaphysics generally, which is kind of assumption that we have metaphysically. And it leads to things that create this bifurcation between mind and body from kind of a dualism from Descartes. And if there’s something that maybe consciousness is more fundamental, maybe it’s a universal part. And that from there out of that sort of substrate of the non [unintelligible] logic of quantum potential, that somehow that is being manifest into the metric space time. And maybe that from there, maybe there’s something that’s more primal, which is what a lot of interpretations of quantum mechanics that are more along the lines of say, Ruth Kastner’s transactional interpretation or Epperson and Zafiris’s relational realism, those different interpretations are more process relational in the sense that they give these realms of potential actual ontological reality. So because of that, it’s very much in alignment to say the astrological approach is to say that there’s these underlying archetypal dynamics that are happening and that those are somehow mysteriously seeping into our physical reality in some ways. So, yeah, I think as you start to really dig into some of these different things of like what is real, you kind of go down these different philosophy paths. And for me, there’s a lot of assumptions and there’s a lot of things that we don’t quite know. We can’t falsify metaphysics one way or another. You have to make an assumption and based upon your assumption, it leads to certain outcomes. And then those outcomes I think you have to start to look to see are those fruitful or not. There’s certainly a lot of outcomes that are not fruitful for reductive materialism and others within process relational approaches that are certainly, I guess, more cutting edge in terms of what those may lead to.
CB: Yeah. I mean, I guess the underlying point though is just we base so much of our understanding of reality on our senses like sight, sound touch, taste, that if something is able to successfully hijack one or two of those senses, all of a sudden you can have the experience of being in a reality that’s different than what you normally experience as the real world successfully and much more seamlessly than you realize until you have that experience. And it’s not until you have that experience that suddenly you can even fully conceptualize what that means or what that feels, because it’s not something that’s just done abstractly, it’s something that you actually feel on some internal level.
KB: Yeah, it’s the same thing like you don’t know until you experience it. You have to go through the experience to really know, which is the astrological equivalent is certain like say Saturn return is a transit that before you go through it, you don’t know what the reality of that transit is going to be. You kind of have to live through the reality of that before you really fully understand it.
CB: Yeah. And that was something I experienced earlier this year when I did the episode with the two sort of like non astrologers and trying to explain astrology to non astrologers or like skeptics of astrology. And we did this whole two-hour episode and it was a great conversation. And I think intellectually I was able to make a great case for astrology that they were entertaining up to a certain point. But then I got to the very end of it, and it wasn’t until the very end that I remembered or realized to ask one of them for their birth data, if they knew their birth time to actually take a look at their astrological chart. But then I didn’t really dwell on it because I didn’t think it was appropriate to do like an astrological consultation on the fly without having talked about it beforehand or anything else, and so I didn’t. And I realized after the fact that, because they weren’t fully sold on it after this fact, and it doesn’t matter how compelling of an intellectual argument you make for astrology, it’s only having firsthand experience of seeing a transit happening and then experiencing and witnessing that in real time in your life that you can fully truly understand like what astrology is about and what sort of potential that it has, that it has some sort of potential actual experiential validity and that’s what it will probably take to convince most people. Truly, it’s not until you have that firsthand experience that you can truly ever think that really there’s something to astrology potentially. So it’s a similar thing with virtual reality.
KB: Yeah. When I started doing interviews with astrologers, I was asking them like, “What is astrology? How does it work?” And there’s a large number of people that would basically say, “I don’t know how it works, but it works for me.” So there’s more of a pragmatist approach of saying that even though you don’t understand the nuances for the foundations, then if it brings some sort of utility into your life, then the underlying metaphysical foundations of that don’t matter as much. And when I started doing interviews with–
CB: Which is funny, because as somebody that spent a large part of their adult life trying to come up with intellectual reasons or ways to explain astrology, it’s quite disappointing to realize in the end none of that ultimately matters. Until the person you’re talking to has some sort of experience of it, they’re never going to be like won over by some sort of abstract or intellectual argument or explanation about what it is.
KB: Yeah, I think people ultimately will have to have their own direct experience. And I think there does have to be some sort of larger cosmological explanation that makes sense. Right now that doesn’t really exist. There’s a lot of gaps within that. So I understand the resistance. I’ve had the resistance myself, and I constantly go through moments where… I want to give a metaphor that happens within the philosophy of math. In mathematics, there’s a debate as to whether or not math objects are real or whether or not they’re just semantic descriptions of reality. And so there’s part of me sometimes that when I look at astrology, it’s like well, I don’t know if this is something deeper about a deeper platonic structure, kind of a Pythagorean or Platonic realm that is this ordering principle that’s somehow with a formal causation filtering into reality. That could be true or that could not be true. It could be just ways that we’re putting languages around these patterns and that’s kind of the debate that happens in math. Some mathematical Platonists believe that there are these Platonic objects that are discovered that they’re actually there endemically above and beyond what human consciousness is.
CB: Right, the math is like a universal language that for example if we met another civilization like in the sci-fi book and movie Contact that math was the language through which you can communicate between civilizations.
KB: Yeah, that could be a universal language. But there’s some mathematicians that have a direct experience of that Platonic reality where they feel like they’re actually discovering something that was already there, rather than something that they created out of their minds. The alternative, the nominalist approach, or the fictionalist approach is to say, all of math is just a language game and it’s just a way of describing different patterns of reality, but there is no there or they’re. That’s beyond a non-spatial, temporal Platonic realm of ideal forms. There are no math objects. It’s all just language. We can take that same exact debate for astrology and say there is no causal principle that’s happening between these, looking at it, this cosmic clock and these correspondences that are acausally connected from a Jungian approach. You could say it’s all just the language and just a story that we’re saying. But the end of it, it becomes more of a narrative technology. And if it’s helps you tell the stories, then it has utility within the context of understanding your own self and your character and your development of your character over time. Even at a metaphysical layer, you can’t prove that there’s an actual connection, there’s something deeper beyond space and time.
CB: So going back though to the experiential part like astrology or in terms of that parallel, somebody need to have that experience in order to truly get it. That was one of the struggles or challenges we are going to run into this conversation is there’s no way that no matter how much we describe it and talk about it that we can fully convey until somebody has experienced it in terms of the listener trying to understand the significance of this.
KB: And that gets into aspects of neuroscience, which the predictive coding theory where you have an embodied experience and then you have a mental model to describe that experience. And so, there’s an iteration between as we take sensory input, it’s compared to our a priori experiences and then if there’s a mismatch, then basically you get a bunch of dopamine to be able to make better modeling within your mind.
But there’s a linguistic part that happens there that I think is connected to things like wine tasting and connected to things like astrology in the sense that if you are someone who’s drank a lot of wine, there’s lots of different flavors that are all happening at the same time. But in order to identify the nuances of those flavors, you have to be able to discern the differences of their individual flavor amongst the context of lots of other flavors happening at the same time. And over time, you eventually cultivate a palette where you’re able to understand what it means to taste different nuances of wine flavors. People that do have that palate of the language that has around those different flavors, they actually have a richer and deeper experience when they drink wine.
Just the same within the archetypal realm within astrology, there’s different ways that you’re metaphorically listening to these different archetypal dynamics and trying to understand what different things feel like. And once you have that embodied experience and put language to it, then you can leverage those aspects of language to be able to make your experience richer. So just the same within virtual reality, once you have these embodied experiences, it is cultivating a capacity for you to understand conceptually with language that allows you to make these connections to other aspects in your life.
CB: Right. Okay. So part of it though is the idea of having an embodied experience and the difference, we’re using Zoom as an example of two people talking over Zoom versus two people talking in person. And what is the difference between those two things? And what is the gap or potentially the gap in between those two things, virtual reality being the middle point between them?
KB: Well, I think that there’s certain ways in which one-on-one conversations start to be pretty close in terms of the types of things you get from Zoom versus when you’re face-to-face. But when you’re face-to-face, you get more of a vibe of somebody’s energy and there’s larger context that is set up that you have come together.
CB: And that’s what we’re doing right here so let’s talk about that. I mean, this is one of the first I’ve had other people in the studio since the pandemic starting to get into a stage with the vaccines and stuff that I’ve been comfortable when, for example, Rick Levine travelled through town having him over to do an interview in person and I set up the studio originally two years ago before the pandemic with the hope of doing more in-person interviews, partially because I can get better audio and video quality but also partially because there’s a difference in the dynamic of the conversation between two people when they’re actually sitting in a room together versus when you’re over Zoom and you have that slight maybe even imperceptible but still present latency or delay in the conversation that causes a slightly different dynamic, versus when you’re sitting together. It’s like two people that are just sitting together having a conversation like at a conference like an astrology conference for example. And there’s so many amazing conversations that astrologers have in person at astrology conferences. When we’re doing a podcast in person, you’re able to actually capture that a little bit more genuinely than you can online. So that’s an interesting proxy or an analogy for what we’re talking about here and two people let’s say just going back to that model of just two people talking of Zoom versus let’s say virtual reality as the midpoint between having an actual in-person conversation.
KB: And I think that all that what you’re saying is exactly spot on in terms of the type of intimacy that you have when you’re face-to-face with someone. For most of the podcasts that I did for 2009-2019, 95% of them were face-to-face. So I really reveled in that serendipitous collisions I would have at these gatherings without planning too much and I would run into people and there would be a little bit of a complex of almost like tapping into a deeper zeitgeist of the people that you run into, you get information. And once you leave a conference, you see different themes that naturally emerge based upon who you happen to run into. So there’s-
CB: You had a unique and different podcasting style than I did. Whereas my podcasts are very long and very prepared and I do a bunch of research and I write a detailed outline ahead of time and it has these constraints on it, in some ways, it’s almost more Saturnian in a way, you would go to conferences with a handheld voice recorder and a microphone and you would literally just walk around the hallways and see who you ran into and what… You call them serendipitous- What was?
KB: Serendipitous collisions.
CB: Collisions. And you just literally so you run into and then you would interview them and that would lead you in different places that you would flow with or follow over the course of the week.
KB: Yeah, it gets into my philosophy of time which gets into the differentiation that the Greeks had between Chronos time and Kairos time. Chronos time is the metrical measurement of time as it unfolds meaning that you are looking at your watch and you’re doing things in a very regimented way. Whereas Kairos is much more about the underlying archetypal potentials of the quality of the moment at the time and so the Kairos was the right moment to act. I think this is one of the things that Jung was looking at in terms of the explanation of astrology was that it somehow was talking about these more qualitative aspects of time.
When Einstein came up with general relativity or the special relativity at first, there was a way of spatializing time in a way that took away what Bergson would talk about in terms of duration so that duration was the ways in which you have those experiences that have a quality of the moment. And that’s a lot of what the archetypal moments of astrology is trying to have a system of trying to describe what the underlying archetypal dynamics of the quality of the moment. But just as a practice, as I would go into these conferences, I would have a serendipitous collision which I define as me having an intention to be opened for possibility and to meet up with someone else who’s also open for possibility and that when we come together, we somehow have an exchange where it’s impossible to have something happen in the absence of other person’s participation.
In other words, two people come together and make something that couldn’t exist without them coming together. That’s the basis of how you would use the serendipitous collisions to tap into these deeper archetypal potentials of the quality of the moment.
I feel like it did that in a certain way and that the work that I’ve done over the past decade plus is reflective of just allowing myself to be open for those possibilities and see what emerges as I have those different types of “serendipitous collisions”. However, I started to find what is serendipitous and what is not.
CB: And maybe now that it’s interesting point then and now that in person astrology conferences are supposed to come back this year with NORWAC happening in Seattle in May and then the ISAR conference in August that astrology conferences create a framework or a container where those serendipitous collisions can happen on many different levels because you just have several 100 astrologers walking around the same space over a few day period of time and running into each other and there’s unexpected things that come out of that but that can be fortuitous in different ways.
KB: Yeah, I think that there’s been a similar thing within the transmission of knowledge through the oral storytelling process within virtual reality that’s very similar to the astrological tradition where there is an oral tradition of these embodied experiences that have these transmissions of knowledge that happen face to face and you listen to these different lectures. But there’s also gathering people together who have shared intentions and there’s this intentional field that gets formed and then out of that you’re able to make those connections that are unplanned and unscheduled, which I think is what Zoom does not do as well.
So I feel like as we talk about and contrasting the existing 2D realm into the future of these immersive realms, I think about it in terms of those, what are the potentials that you want to manifest and what do you need to be able to have a field of potential that you’re navigating around having an embodiment so you have a virtual representation of yourself, you have the agency to locomote and move around the space, that sense of active presence and you’re colliding with other people that you’re able to talk to or have some exchange with.
And so, it’s those different types of interactions that I think that are going to be driving the heart of what makes the “metaverse” so interesting is because it opens up the realms of possibility for interacting with people and having stuff emerge that you never really quite could plan for. But if you have people with shared intentions that are able to collaborate in specific ways then that’s going to lead to all sorts of amazing things.
CB: It reminds me of the random or chance like element that I think is a really important component to all forms of divination where tarot cards for example you have to shuffle the deck and then you pull out just a few random cards, but the random or chance like nature of pulling those specific cards in that specific moment with the specific context of whatever you’re thinking about going into it in your head is not purposelessness or is not meaningful, but instead it has meaning and has purpose in that moment. Or when you do the I Ching and you cast the coins, the specific coins that fall out have some specific meaning or purpose. So that’s the basic premise underlying divination is that chance like phenomenon can reveal some deeper pattern of meaning or purpose or fate that’s at work in underlying reality.
Astrology also early on to the extent that it was tied in with divination or were seen as a form of divination had that random or translate character to it as well in terms of, we can see that really clearly as Geoffrey Cornelius said in the Moment of Astrology with horary astrology where the astrologer casts a chart for the moment of the question and whatever that chart is that’s cast for that random moment will actually describe not just the nature of the question, but also its outcome. And in some ways, natal astrology I think was probably originally conceptualized like that that the moment of birth was a random or chance like moment and that casting a chart for the alignment of the planets of that moment would tell you not just about the nature of the person, but also the outcome of their life.
So there’s something about that random or chance like character then that’s more present in astrology conferences or could be more present in virtual spaces where more of your senses and there’s more of a sense of being embodied in present on an almost quasi physical level in those spaces.
KB: Yeah, this is a lot of really deep questions of how does divination tarot or astrology work. As I’ve looked into the mechanics of some of those things, what I’ve come to is to look at Aristotle had the four causes where there’s material cause and efficient cause which is the physical reality interacting with each other, but also then an actor who is making it happen, so some causal effect that comes from the outside of that. So most of the existing way of looking at our reality has been through either efficient or material cause.
The two causations that have been ignored for a long, long time have been final causation and formal causation. The final causation is the intention. It’s the final intent for what is going to happen. So because of that you have asking a question within horary or asking a question within the context of the I Ching somehow is having this formal causation intention that is somehow aligning with these underlying mathematical structures of probability, most of these things have some chance elements. And so when I think about the other aspect of the formal causation, those are those aspects of how the math structures are interfacing with reality.
Eugene Wigner famously said that math has an unreasonable effectiveness that somehow math just works a little bit too well. So because of these math structures like in quantum electrodynamics are accurate to 13 decimal points, that level of precision just goes above and beyond what you would expect of a chance linguistic structuring of patterns. It’s almost like those patterns are interfacing with the nature of reality in some way. And so that concept of formal causation and how the degrees in which these realms of potential are interfacing with reality I feel like is a part of the divinatory practice of as you ask a question, it’s somehow metaphorically the wavefunction collapses and all of those realms of potential are collapsed into one thing that’s actually connected to the exact thing that you need to either hear or see.
Geoffrey Cornelius in the Moment of Astrology was really trying to cast all of astrology through that lens of divination. Jung was also looking at this and he wrote a great introduction to the I Ching where he had worked with it for years and years and years and he had his Western substance metaphysics mind where he’s like, “Look, this doesn’t really make sense to the Western way of thinking.” But from his own direct experience, he found that it worked and there seems to be these other layers that are in action.
Now whether or not within these virtual realms, we’re going to be able to potentially tap into that even more, I think that’s yet to be seen because the other side of all that is that you’re more bounded in your senses of what you’re able to really take in as input so you’re in the construct of someone else’s simulation, which may actually not be as in collaboration with what is emerging from the world around you in a way that may be, things that only happen when you’re face to face with other people grounded in a physical reality. So I think that’s where you start to get into some of the differences between VR and AR.
CB: Right. You have a graph on that. Why don’t we explain what is AR?
KB: There’s a spectrum, Milgram’s mixed reality spectrum. So on one end, there’s physical reality and then the other end, you have the virtual environment. So you have the real environment and the virtual environment.
CB: There’s two extremes on a spectrum?
KB: Yeah, two polarities. And so, the physical reality is on one extreme where it’s all of the real environment. On the other extreme, where it’s all virtual environment, that’s what we typically call virtual reality. And then somewhere in the middle which is somewhere blending the aspects of the realm environment with the virtual environment is the augmented reality.
CB: And so augmented reality are things like a decade ago, Google launched the Google Glass which were glasses that you wear that would have an on-screen display or that would display little bits of information as an overlay while you’re still otherwise primarily seeing the rest of the world around you?
KB: Yeah, it’s the idea that you want to be grounded into the context of the real world and you want to be able to modulate different aspects of reality on top of that. In some ways, I think about it as at least of being grounded in reality, you’re taking Platonic realms of ideal forms and you’re able to actually visualize those as you overlay those on top of reality. So it’s able to make deeper pattern connections and be able to shift and modulate the context but more or less you’re still in the center of gravity of whatever that embodied context is. And so, everything from Google Glass or the HoloLens from Microsoft or Snap Spectacles, and there’s lots of different augmented reality, Enterprise solutions like Google Glass now.
But also, another one that’s emergent is Tilt Five which is a tabletop augmented reality that uses a completely different approach that basically shoots almost like, how the ancients thought about how you shoot rays from your eyes. This is literally you have I-beams that are shooting light beams outside and they’re getting reflected back. And so, you can actually see holograms like you imagine in Star Wars, you see something that feels like these actual holograms that are these tabletop scale. So a lot of tabletop gaming is going to be driven innovation with augmented reality with the Tilt Five.
But AR you tend to have the full embodied presence with other people. So if you want to see the full body language and maybe even their eyes, then augmented reality is going to be around when you’re gathering together face to face with folks. Pokémon Go is the huge experience that was building a POS Ingress, which would create these different locations around cities that were sightseeing places or spaces where people would go to and they built a whole game around that with the Pokémon.
CB: I remember that as being a really striking, that was during the summer of 2016 when that exploded and became a huge thing and that was the summer where the Saturn-Neptune squares were going exact and augmented reality suddenly became a big buzzword for the first time anytime I had seen at that level publicly because of Pokémon Go. Just to describe it for those that weren’t around or didn’t see it, it’s like people could use their phones and they look through their phone through almost as if you’re taking a photo. But when you look at the screen, you could see if you’re in an area where there was like a Pokémon monster, you could see them in the screen even though in reality if you looked behind the phone, it wasn’t there.
KB: Augmented reality and that square between the Saturn and Neptune that third quarter square was also within the context of a longer cycle that was happening from say 2007 to 2020, which is the Uranus-Square-Pluto, which was the beginning of the third wave which we haven’t gotten to in terms of the overall story of virtual reality, but that was when we started to see the resurgence of virtual reality with things like the Oculus Kickstarter and-
CB: Let’s get there in a minute after because I want to do that entire story once we finish with the augmented reality. We’ll finish what you’re saying about augmented reality with just 2016 and the Pokémon Go.
KB: Well, so it’s within that larger context of the Uranus-Square-Pluto. Most of the, in terms of things coming first, we have virtual reality that’s coming first above and beyond augmented reality because there’s a lot of things in terms of computer vision. Just technologically, augmented reality is a lot harder of a problem to solve than say virtual reality. You can think about any screen that you use today like we’re looking at a number of screens in this room, but imagine if you had a pair of glasses and you’d be able to overlay all those things and have super high-resolution content that you’d be able to have access to so you’d be able to… You can already go in virtual reality and watch a big huge movie screen. But I think in the future, the next 5, 10, 20 years, we’re going to start to have a lot of these augmented and virtual reality. The screen-based technologies are also going to be migrating into these head mounted displays that are able to allow us to have these wide vast ways of overlaying aspects on top of reality. So thinking about screens in general, it’s starting with virtual reality, but it’s leading into the augmented reality, but the virtual reality at least for now is coming first.
CB: Okay, yeah. But it was interesting with the Saturn-Neptune square in that summer and just seeing that peak because remember we talked about it a lot in the forecast episodes and just how striking it was the blurring between reality and not reality or reality and virtual, the virtual world or what have you during that very close alignment at that time in 2016. So whenever I think of augmented reality, I think of that square between those two planets.
In terms of though of the larger and more important longer cycle of Uranus-Square-Pluto and the emergence of virtual reality in the latest wave, there was a turning point that started in 2012, right?
KB: Yeah, that was when the Kickstarter for the Oculus Rift came out in August of 2012. And there’s a lot of things that were leading up to that in terms of the breakthrough innovation where a lot of the technology had been there in terms of the screens from phones, the IM use, and all these things that allow you to basically put a screen onto your face and as you move your head, it’s able to track your head so that it’s able to trick or sensor your motor contingencies for believing that you’re in another world. So the all of the hardware technology based upon all these other technological evolutions were sitting there with the potential for it to be transmuted into virtual reality.
In fact, Ernest Cline came out with Ready Player One in 2011 which was in some ways tapping into this dream of using virtual reality technologies to create these immersive video game worlds that you’re able to explore and go on these different quests. For client, it was bringing back a lot of this nostalgia of the ‘80s. But that book of Ready Player One really was inspiring this latest generation of people that were trying to bring back virtual reality as a technology. There happened to be an instance where the fiction met the reality within a year or so. So within a full year of when that came out, we had some of the first virtual reality technologies that were in some ways speaking to the Uranus-Square-Pluto, Uranus being like shocking, unexpected, surprising breakthrough innovations of technology that was happening from a consistent time from like 2012 until 2016-2017 when all these new virtual reality innovations were coming out from a whole range of different companies.
CB: Because I remember in one of the previous waves in the ‘90s when there was that wave of virtual reality and the idea of virtual reality and there were a lot of abstract attempts to do it, but the technology just wasn’t there yet, and I remember implementations. I remember a Christmas around 1993 or 1994 where I got a VR headset, which I assumed would transport me into a Super Nintendo game or NES game, but what it was at the time was just a screen that only allowed left or right movement. If you turn your head left, you’ll walk left and if you turn it right, you’ll turn right, which was not an immersive experience whatsoever. Or a few years later at a Dave & Busters, which is an arcade basically advanced arcade having a virtual reality thing in a 3D shooter that you could use for a short period of time of 10 or 15 minutes or something like that with very basic graphics and things like that, but the technology still was not there yet.
So all of a sudden, what happened is we hit the Uranus-Pluto square timeframe, which in your graph and in Tarnas’s approach using his orbs is 2007 to 2020, and that was the point where the technology is suddenly caught up to the point where you could actually start making an immersive experience with the virtual reality.
KB: To go back to the ‘90s, there was the Wolfenstein 3D Doom which was video games establishing the first-person shooter but the heart of that was to be actually immersed within these worlds, but mediated through 2D screen. And there’s things like Dactyl Nightmare, which was probably the thing that you saw at Dave & Busters. And so, these were also giving a lot of people the potential of what was possible. But again, these systems were $40,000 to $60,000, something that’s way outside of the range of most enterprises outside of a lot of the car companies and NASA and military. That’s where a lot of this was being incubated for many, many years since the ‘60s. But it wasn’t until the 2012 and then into this modern resurgence of virtuality, the so-called third wave, where you started to have it cheap enough to be able to spend $350 to get an Oculus Rift DK1 and that was bootstrapping the entire immersive industry at that point.
And you started to see a lot of other people were independently working on things like Valve was working on their hardware lab as early as like 2011. You had Sony Morpheus that then was launched as the PlayStation VR. You had the Microsoft HoloLens that had been incubated for a number of years. And then Meta, Facebook at the time ended up buying Oculus. But Google had been working on Google Cardboard and then the Daydream. So basically, all the big major players amongst this time period over a series of time in addition to Valve which was a more smaller player than HTC, they started announcing these consistent progression of three degree of freedom virtual reality where you could only move your head left, right, up, down, and then six degree of freedoms where you can actually move your full body and then the room scale from Valve where you can actually move your full body within the context of a room scale.
So it basically was a series of technological innovations that were basically mind blowing once you got a chance to see that. And as-
CB: They’re happening very rapidly?
KB: Yeah, over the course of consistently every few months or so, over the course of a few years, [inaudible 00:27:02] was being announced at the time and so both virtual and augmented reality was like this breakthrough that came from nowhere almost. It was a Kickstarter that then was purchased for like at the time reported for two billion, but later reported that was around $3 billion that it was acquired.
CB: You’re talking about Oculus?
KB: Oculus, yeah.
CB: Can you tell the story real briefly of the start of that? So it started as there was this one guy and he started a Kickstarter to fund because he saw that it would be possible to create a VR headset using all the technologies that were converging and he created a Kickstarter or a work group funding project, crowdfunding project for it?
KB: Palmer Luckey was on different forums. He was a modder. He was modding different technologies and there was a community of people that were true believers in the vision of virtual reality and they were having these different discussions online in a forum called Meant to Be Seen. And one of those people also happened to be John Carmack, the creator of Doom who was also getting interested in virtual reality.
CB: The Doom of 3D shooter from the early to mid-1990s, which was one of the first big 3D games?
KB: Right, right. Seen within computer gaming circles, Carmack is like this legend when it comes to pioneering this new form of first-person shooters and to be able to optimize 3D computer graphics in a way. So Luckey actually sent this prototype to John Carmack who- Palmer wasn’t somebody who could make software so he was able to do a lot of the modulating of other… He bought tons and tons of different VR headsets and then was able to take existing phone components and then hack together this duct tape prototype that in June of 2012 which was E3, it actually got sent to Carmack who had a demo of Doom and he showed it and it actually went viral, just completely exploded. People their minds were blown.
Earlier actually at Sundance of 2012, Palmer Luckey with Nonny de la Peña actually showed a version of [inaudible 00:29:08] in LA. So this was before even this thing had exploded, an immersive journalist Nonny de la Peña was using virtual reality technologies at the Sundance Film Festival, which has continued to show a lot of immersive work over the years that I’ve been covering as a part of my work. But moving into the Kickstarter, the Kickstarter shipped in the spring of 2013 and that basically was a very cheap way of getting access to the technology that bootstrap the whole immersive industry. And then after that-
CB: So he shipped the development kit to developers so that programmers or companies could start developing programs or games within the context of this new virtual reality headset?
KB: That’s right. And at the time, there was no way to move your hands or anything, it was all a joystick controller, Xbox controller input, but it was just people trying to figure out what was even possible. One of those early experiences was Titans of Space which I saw a demo at the beginning of 2014. When I saw that I was like, ”Wow, that looks again amazing experience so I want to have that.” And that was part of what inspired me to buy virtual reality in the first place was to be able to see the Titans of Space experience.
CB: Describe it, that you can fly through the solar system and visit each of the planets?
KB: Yeah, it was trying to give a…. Being able to see scale within virtual reality is a real strength of the medium. So they took you to these different planets and they were trying to show you the relative scale between how big the Earth was, how big Mercury was, how big the Sun was. Of course, it’s all probably in some way scaled down or it’s not the actual scale because there’s a certain point where you can’t actually tell the difference and so it was normalized in a way that you could see some of the relative differences in the size of some of these different planets.
CB: But it gives you a gut level sense of it in the same way of like standing next to a house or car versus when you go downtown in a major city and you stand next to a skyscraper and you just feel the enormity of what you’re standing next to. The virtual reality in that gave you some sense of that of like when you’re next to a planet how massive it is.
KB: Yeah. And I think we describe those things as the affordances of what’s new and what’s different and one of those things is scale, other things are presence, just lots of different ways that it’s combining all the previous communication media from starting with oral storytelling and then theater and then with radio and film and television on up until different aspects of human computer interaction and video games. So each of these previous media are leading into the culmination of what virtual reality technologies are.
CB: I think you have a slide for that, right?
KB: Yeah. So there’s a nested hierarchy here, starting with oral storytelling then theater.
CB: So what is oral storytelling? That’s like people telling myths way back in the day? So that’s your starting point or that’s the core of a series of concentric circles. Why is that the starting point?
KB: Well, if you think about books, we know that books are printed. But before they are books, there’s people probably sitting around a campfire telling stories to each other and so that was the origins of storytelling. We don’t really know. It could be cave paintings for all we know. That could have been the start. But at some point, there’s people sitting around the campfire telling stories. The reason why that’s important is that it used to be very participatory in the sense that there would be music that was being played from the community or people would have something else that they would say, but the myths were never really necessarily written down. They were organic and they would modulate and they would shift and they would change over time. So part of the oral storytelling tradition was that he’d be able to adapt and the story itself would change as the culture itself changed so you’re able to completely reinvent it.
CB: And maybe also just, some time when you’re there and you hear the story, that story is only going to be told that same way once and there’s something about the uniqueness of the storyteller, the person who’s hearing it, the moment that it’s happening, what’s happening around you, and everything else that is unique in that moment in the same way that we’re talking about Kairos versus Chronos earlier.
KB: Exactly, yeah. The liveness of the live is it would be probably referred to within the theatre circles, what is it about this live moment that makes it live and I think that oral storytelling tradition was able to tap into those Kairos moments in a specific way. But once we moved into say books and film and radio, TV, that’s a linearization of the media. Until we get to video games, we start to have a little bit more interactivity and agency and then the internet and mobile phone. So for each of these media, they’re being informed by the previous media. So they’re taking the affordances of the previous media, but then they’re transcending and including the transcending limitations of that, but also including new affordances of that. So as you move through these different communication media, there’s like a center of gravity of different things like say video games is a lot about active presence in agency. So you’re like taking the lessons of TV and radio, but adding this new dimension of what’s it mean to express your agency as an expression of character within the context of a story.
CB: To have choice?
KB: To have choices, yeah. And to have the realms of potential be expressed to the point where you can feel like you actually made a choice that was maybe reflective of your deeper intentions of that moment. Really good interactive stories are able to tune into deeper aspects of your character, feeling like you really made a choice that made a difference in how things played out. But now that we get at the top with virtual augmented reality, it’s taking all of those other previous media and combining it together. It’s taking all those lessons but adding the new things of different aspects of presence, the act of presence, mental and social presence, emotional presence and environmental and embodied presence.
CB: Okay. Where were we? So we were at the just to go back astrologically and ground this astrologically with what’s happening when Oculus was founded by Palmer Luckey and he successfully funded it through Kickstarter and then also got the first prototype out, this is happening around the 2012-2013 timeframe and that’s extremely close to some of the Uranus Pluto squares that were taking place at the time in between Capricorn and Aries, right?
KB: Yeah, I was actually aware of some of those different squares and that was in part being aware of Tarnas’s work of talking about this Promethean liberation of new technological breakthroughs. And I had been aware of that enough that I was like, ”Wow, it does look like some of these virtual reality technologies are a manifestation of that.” And so as I saw some of the news and things that were happening, it did feel like a unique moment in history, which for me, I felt compelled to just be there and start to do what I could to be able to document it because it felt like…
If you go back to the very early beginnings of say the printing press or through the Renaissance, there was Vasari who was documenting the lives of artists over time in the first art history as it were. So I felt like in this time period, I wanted to help understand the makers and the creators and what was driving them, what were the insights that we’re getting in terms of what the affordances of these media were. So a lot of my work has been to be in conversation with at this point over 1,600 people to be able to listen to their own experiences for what they’re seeing.
CB: And so, you’re doing the Esoteric Voices astrology podcast since 2009. But then as VR started to really take off, and that was one of your interests, you started going to conferences and you launched the Voices of VR podcast and started doing interviews with people in the VR community in person at conferences.
KB: Yeah, May of 2014, I went to the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference and that was the beginning of my journey into covering VR. At that point, I had started in continuing to do different interviews on astrology and I let my SoundCloud lapse on astrology just because it felt like there was a cultural clash between the taboos of how astrology is seen as Tarnas describes it as the gold standard of pseudoscience in some ways in the popular culture.
CB: Yeah, the most educated normal people view astrology negatively as pseudoscience or as something that’s not legitimate.
KB: Yeah, yeah. So I went dark and more in the astrological closet since 2014-2015 so this conversation is my first public conversation about this for a long, long time.
CB: Well, yeah, because you and I talked about that because there was a major tension because things like virtual reality and technology and things like that are big on places like Reddit for example and that’s where I would follow some of the stuff that was going on or hear about some of the stuff that was going on with Oculus and other things. But also, in those circles of the tech circles, there tends to be more of certainly obviously a scientific bent, but also a skeptical bent so that I knew in that direction that you were going with virtual reality that you needed to be careful because if people knew about your astrological interests, that could actually hamper or cause you problems in terms of being able to do some of the interviews and things you wanted to do with the virtual reality podcast.
KB: As we move forward, I don’t know, it’s yet to be seen. I feel like astrology still on this liminal space where because there isn’t an established cosmological approach that is coherent, that is matched up with the astrological tradition itself or even from a wider society, there’s all these gaps. But for me, I guess I identify first and foremost as someone who’s insatiably curious, so I’m just fascinated and be able to talk to people from more of an anthropological perspective. But also philosophically, I feel like there’s so many deep and rich questions that astrology brings up that has given me insights into different things. And I feel like I said, part of the thing that has given me some reassurance is knowing that there’s potential pathways of things like process-relational philosophies that feel like could be a new alternative for metaphysical grounding that actually could make sense in terms of how the astrological tradition works, namely, these aspects of potential, whether it’s from the depth psychological tradition where you talk about these archetypal aspects like Jung did, and Hillman, and the work of Tarnas and Grof, but also in the quantum ontology, the ways in which that some interpretations of potential there’s like Everett’s many more interpretation that takes potential and spatialized it out into an infinite number of dimensions where every single possible potential is actualized into a reality that’s orthogonal to our own reality that we can’t see.
So that’s one way that the existing paradigm deals with potential is to spatialize it out and actualize it. But I think there’s a realm in which that potential is being constructed moment to moment. So in Whitehead’s view of the universe, every moment, the universe is being reconstructed and there’s almost like a habit of the previous cycles that are being this overarching set of processes that are nested together are somehow being continued on. And so, you imagine different waves of potential in these processes that are nested in different ways. Right now, we’re in a 500-year cycle between Neptune and Pluto, that is one overarching cycle. But then there’s other cycles of say the Uranus and Neptune that happens. There’s a number of different cycles that happen within the context of that. And then also a number of cycles within the Uranus and Pluto.
So there’s these overlapping waves of cycles that are shifting and driving these different dialectical discussions that Tarnas rightly points to Hegel as talking about how history is about these series of different dialectics between different concepts that are in tension with each other and they have this thesis and antithesis and synthesis that happens that drives the history forward. And then Marx took that into dialectical materialism that focused on specifically how there’s owners and non-owners and looking at through the context of the economic lens of taking that Hegelian perspective.
But I feel like Tarnas’s work in Cosmos and Psyche is taking that spirit of the Hegelian dialectic and trying to take it and broaden out to a whole cultural history of looking at how there’s so many different patterns across the history of culture that you could start to look at these dialectical patterning’s and start to see how history unfolds over time.
So for me, I just think that’s a beautiful way of spatializing and creating a memory palace of not only understanding the timing of how far of what happened in the history to be aware of the history, but to also understand what the story of that history is as it leads into the present day.
CB: Right. Despite that you had and even at the time several years ago when your virtual reality podcast was taking off and I could see VR was taking off, I could have encouraged you to be more careful about being open about your astrological interest because I thought it could undermine and cause you maybe to lose the ability to do the VR podcast. So you did pull back from the astrology or weren’t public about it for a number of years and this is the first time publicly that you have been in a long time.
KB: Yeah, yeah, so hello.
CB: Right. So do you feel comfortable sharing your chart?
CB: Okay. What’s your data?
KB: It’s September 1st, 1976 at 12:05 a.m. in Indianapolis, Indiana.
CB: What’s your rising degree?
CB: 22 Gemini. Let me put this up for the video viewers. So just to describe it for the audio listeners, you have 22 Gemini rising and your Midheaven is at 28 Aquarius. You have Jupiter in the first whole sign house in Gemini at 0° of Gemini, Saturn in Leo at 10° of Leo, the Sun in Virgo at 8°, Venus at 29 Virgo, you have a Mars-Mercury-Pluto conjunction in early Libra, Uranus north node conjunction in early Scorpio and then a Moon-Neptune conjunction in Sagittarius.
KB: Yeah. As I’ve looked at my chart, I started with looking at a lot of transits but I think over time, been able to look at my chart and identify different aspects. I have a Mars-Mercury conjunct within four arc minutes and that’s trining Jupiter. And also, that Mars-Mercury is conjunct Pluto. So the way I tell the story is like my creative expression is going into conferences and trying to find the most powerful people in the room and with very deliberative action, go and do conversations with them. But not only a lot of conversation so that Jupiter in Gemini is almost like it’s in detriment so it’s almost like too many conversations or too many words, too many ideas.
But there’s an interesting square, a first quarter square between my Virgo Sun and my Sagittarius Moon. There’s a level of pragmatism that I have that I’m trained as an electrical engineer so I have this grounding in the pragmatism of being practical. That practicality comes from actually collecting and doing the work of gathering those oral history interviews and that the Moon conjunct Neptune is like this more intuitively driven, but also philosophically inspired trying to understand the underlying idealistic structures of the nature of reality.
And right now, at this moment, with my Saturn in Leo at 10°, there’s an opposition between the transiting Saturn in the 9th house and so there’s a part in which that the daily work that I’ve done for having all these conversations and trying to mine out the deeper philosophical ideas. So here I am having a conversation on this podcast with also say nataly, I have the square between Saturn square Uranus, and I’ve been going to my Uranus opposition, but there’s also this Saturn square that’s also happening in the sky that also happens to be very closely aligned to my natal transiting Saturn that’s around 11° that’s squaring my 10° Leo, but also opposite my natal, Uranus which is conjunct my north node. So I tend to be very attracted to very weird esoteric things like astrology.
CB: Last night, we noticed that your Saturn opposition is actually going exact in the next few days, so it would be tied in to this and it’s interesting that transiting Saturn in Aquarius is going through your 9th house. So then you’ve been quiet or silent about part of your underlying philosophy or interests in life in terms of the astrology for the last half of a decade, but now you’re being more public about that by doing this podcast, which can potentially create some tensions but at least there’s also a release at the same time as well.
KB: You just called me up out of the blue and said, ”Hey, we should come out to Denver and talk about the metaverse,” and I’m like, ”I’m in. I’ll do it.” Even though I’ve really haven’t been very public about my ideas, but I thought it was a good opportunity, especially I’ve got like Jupiter is conjunct my Midheaven right now, Saturn is square my Ascendant pretty closely, the Moon happens to be on the Ascendant today.
CB: Well, there’s a full Moon in Gemini literally right now and the Moon is, this is really funny, it’s right on the Ascendant right now. Look at this. So that’s your chart your Ascendant is at 22 Gemini and here’s the chart of the moment where the Ascendant right now in Denver is at 23 Gemini. It just passed over 22 when we pulled up your birth chart and the Moon is at 24 Gemini right now and it’s heading to an opposition with the Sun at 27 Sagittarius. So in the next few hours, we’re going to have a full Moon in Gemini in your rising sign and like you said, Jupiter is at 28 Aquarius right now on your Midheaven like that on.
KB: Yeah. And also, there’s a Chiron opposite my natal Pluto. The thing about astrology for me is that there’s a lot of my practice in which that I try to be very present and whatever is emerging in the moment and then I don’t really always look at the astrology until after the fact or just like right now when we pull something up and it just so happens to be my rising sign is also rising. But there’s a way in which that after big events happen and I look at the different transits or the different things that are happening, there seems to be some resonance between what’s happening in the sky and what’s happening in my life, and to be able to understand the story of my life as it unfolds. I think it was you that told me once that my Zodiacal Releasing from spirit was going to be in the 10th house from Fortune. And so that happened to me until 2019 and so there’s a way in which the type of work that I’m doing now, I’ll probably be known for this in a certain way, both probably mostly for the virtual reality stuff. But I took that in a way just to continue to focus of trying to document that little corner of the world by being informed by these larger archetypal dynamics. But back to my own personal story, I find-
CB: And just to say something about that really quickly, in both of these communities, in both of virtual reality community, you have done hundreds of interviews during this pivotal turning point where virtual reality is actually at the critical point where it finally takes off and reaches critical mass of becoming an actual viable thing on a larger world scale and you’ve been doing interviews with a lot of the foundational players in that at that turning point over the past decade.
Interestingly and weirdly, you also were doing that in the astrological community at the same time where you’re going to conferences and during the time period in which not just traditional astrology took off going from where before like 2009 when you started, it would just be me or maybe Demetrius that was talking about traditional astrology to all of a sudden that’s become mainstream to also seeing this huge influx of Jungian astrologers over the past few years and seeing all of a sudden astrology taking off in a way that it hadn’t for many decades since the 1960s. And suddenly, everybody knows their Sun, Moon and rising sign and astrology apps have taken off and there’s Netflix shows about it and everything else. You were also going around interviewing a lot of the community leaders at conferences during that time period as well, which is very interesting.
KB: Yeah, it started in 2009 which at the time it was the opposition between Saturn and Neptune. And I remember talking to Tarnas-
CB: Saturn and Uranus? You mean in the sky or in your chart?
KB: No, in 2009 it was in Saturn and Neptune. No, I’m sorry in Uranus. You’re right, sorry.
CB: So Saturn was going through Virgo and it opposed Uranus in Pisces. I remember that because it went exact on election day, November of 2008.
KB: Yeah, sorry. There was a Saturn-Uranus opposition that was happening in the sky when I started. And now all of a sudden, flash forward to 2021 when it’s the third quarter square that happens to be directly aligned to my own natal Saturn and my natal Uranus as well.
So, to me, there’s almost like you think about that original quote that I had about Kierkegaard that you can only understand life backwards, so understanding there’s some final causation for us getting to this point where life must be understood backwards and that one forgets that it must be lived forwards. But looking at how this trajectory where the artistic impulse… I’ve talked to lots of artists, dozens and dozens of artists, and their own process is they follow their own artistic intuition. They have their own way of tuning into these deeper patterns and they express it through their art.
And so for me, I feel like my own process of doing these interviews, there’s almost like my own way of this artistic practice that is to be attuned to things that I find interesting or curious and then embedding myself within that community and doing these different conversations.
CB: Yeah. And I do that sometimes in a much more slow scale. You do it much faster because you do it often in the confines of a conference of like a few days and you interview several dozen or 100 people very rapidly, whereas I’m doing it over a slower period. But sometimes when stuff arises, I go with that and do that interview that feels right at that time given the sequence of what podcasts have led up to it or what events have led up to it.
In this instance, seeing that announcement by Facebook of rebranding to Meta and that they’re anticipating the metaverse becoming in virtual reality become this huge thing by the end of the decade. I’ve been meaning to do a podcast with you for years since we go back over a decade and we’re both podcasters and wanting to talk with you and knowing that you were the virtual reality guy and the guy to interview when it was time to do that topic. But then I just finally realized in the past month that it was time to do that topic and now I’m ready and I’m interested because it’s hit that critical mass, and then things just came together.
I also owe you. For the record, I wanted to state that it was at a conference, Northwest Astrology Conference in Seattle in May of 2015 that you told me about this new website Patreon that had just come out. You told me about it and what was cool about it and I immediately knew that would be a great idea and could be the way to take the podcast to the next level in terms of being able to get crowdfunding in order to then be able to improve the quality of the episodes as well as produce it more regularly and pursue this dream I had always had of interviewing different astrologers and eventually maybe doing a documentary on astrology, but also just having long form conversations and collecting some of that oral history in the way that you did while also teaching astrology and that ended up being just a huge game changer for me.
So that’s one of the reasons why I wanted you to be my first guest as somebody I was flying out here to interview in person because of that you being there and being part of contributing to that critical turning point for The Astrology Podcast way back in 2015. So thanks for that.
KB: Yeah, I know. You’re welcome. And you’ve been able to do a great job at that. I should also say one of the things that I made in 2014 with Jenn Zahrt was Zodiacal Releasing data visualization thing that I think that probably a lot of people within the astrological community have maybe seen or been aware of. There’s a way in which that structuring and visualizing different periods of time in Zodiacal Releasing in particular is something that I’ve been fascinated by.
CB: When did we decide looking for the-
KB: December of 2014 I believe is I think when I first made the Zodiacal Releasing visualization. There was the Delphic Oracle which Curtis Manwaring was able to create a visualization but at the time that wasn’t really accessible for being able to use it practically and I wanted to have it on my phone to be able to track it and Jenn Zahrt had come up with a way of visualizing it in almost like these nested sequences that was much more intuitive for that.
CB: What was the URL? Because that’s still available, right?
KB: Yeah, that’s at nataltransits.com/timelord.html.
CB: Okay. And you programed that just over the course of like a weekend, right?
KB: It was like a 48-hour game jam thing where I had already built the nataltransits.com and so it was just a matter of trying to do the visualization. For people who may have used that, then that’s another thing that I guess has been part of my contribution to the larger astrological community to be able to start to visualize those structures of time. And that to me also just those planetary periods how that works or why that works has also been another thing that has been an inspiration trying to figure out why something like the Zodiacal Releasing would even work if it does work. It’s just one of those weird magical things that to me speaks to some of the underlying structures of the how our lives unfold.
CB: That became one of the first website-based freeware programs for calculating Zodiacal Releasing and I know a number of people used it for a number of years and still do. It’s still one of the ones that I recommend for really visualizing how long or how short the Zodiacal Releasing periods are.
KB: Yeah, we need to update the legend for that because it’s-
CB: I get an email still once a week or so asking me what the symbols are for that and what the little mountains represent.
KB: That was based upon some of your peak period’s stuff that we put in these little emojis and whatnot. But that was like a 48-hour thing that I did and then haven’t really been looking at much. But as we move forward, I think part of the way I got into virtual reality in the first place was to start to think about how do you do this translation of being immersed into these virtual worlds? And what can you do with the types of visualizations or the types of experiences that are able to take astrology to the next level, from the 2D into the immersive and the embodied realities? So I think there’s a lot of realms in which that the future of these two things coming together has a lot of exciting potentials that have a lot of problems to be solved, I guess.
CB: Okay. So why don’t we talk about that in terms of what are some of the practical ways in which astrologers realistically speaking can or will start using virtual reality in the near future, in a way that’s useful and not dystopic or something like that? I know last night we talked briefly about how you mentioned that there’s a way of conceptualizing that there’s always like a dystopian extreme of a negative way that some people could conceptualize virtual reality and there’s like a utopian extreme ideal but the reality is usually somewhere closer to the middle.
KB: There’s usually some blend of the great potentials and the great perils of new technologies, and the biggest one within virtuality is the surveillance implications of undermining different aspects of your identity and your mental privacy and your-
CB: Right, because we didn’t finish the Oculus Rift story. The Oculus Rift story was they funded it successfully in 2012. They got the first prototypes out in the market in 2013. And then Facebook bought Oculus for $4 billion.
KB: It was $2 billion to $3 billion. It was reported at two at the time, but it ended up being around $3 billion with all the other extra incentives and whatnot. So for around $3 billion March 24, 2014 which the-
CB: So that’s during still that whole Uranus-Pluto square?
KB: Yeah, it was at the heart of the shocking and predictable thing. From a narrative perspective, there was the Ready Player One where there was the trying to win over the metaverse, which was Wade Watts was trying to win it. But then there was the IOI which was the evil corporation that was wanting to translate everything in the metaverse into ads. And so, it was the grassroots indie darling of Oculus was bought by what was essentially the IOI of the larger tech industry of using these aspects of surveillance. And so this is probably the biggest open question in terms of the business models and how are these things going to be funded as we move forward in the future. As we start to look at, are we going to move beyond surveillance, capitalism and move beyond trying to track everything that we do in these immersive environments?
And so that’s a lot of the work that I’ve also done in ethics and trying to figure out how to create either human rights framework for newer rights or how to maybe have a new federal privacy law within United States that takes care of a lot of those concerns around privacy.
CB: Okay, so let’s talk about where that’s at now because the headset you showed me last night was the latest version of the Oculus, which was just released in the past year or so and that’s owned by Facebook/Meta. And one of the things I was surprised by was one, how good the technology was and how much technology was packed. Because I thought it was still hooked into computers that you had to have a separate like gaming PC with a high powered and expensive graphics card in order to run it, but this was actually all built-in to the headset, you didn’t need any computer or anything else actually to run the device and also it had motion sensors, it had the ability to track the surroundings that you’re in or the entire room around you in order to help you not run into anything so that you’re not just like covering your face and like bumping into stuff. It had two handheld pads that would like move your hands and you could actually look down and see your hands in the virtual world like appearing in front of you and interact with objects in it. So I was surprised at how advanced the technology was. And then I also asked, how much is this? And you told me the headset was only like three or four hundred dollars.
KB: 299, yeah. $299.
CB: And that’s wild because that’s not that expensive in the big scheme of things, because I thought something like that I thought the price point was still a thousand or over a thousand dollars or something like that in terms of how much technology is packed into that. But part of what you said is the reason why they can sell it for that cheap is it’s being subsidized essentially by Facebook with ads and things like that.
KB: Well, they’re not subsidizing yet with ads, but they’re moving into a future that eventually they want to build up a network to be large enough so they can kind of continue their ad-based revenue models.
CB: And continue their dominance of the sort of social networking space.
KB: Yeah, I guess a piece of context that’s worth mentioning is that Facebook has always been an application that’s lived on either an Apple iOS or an Android or Google Android, and they kind of miss the mobile revolution as well as Microsoft as well. So knowing how important these mobile devices have been for being a new computing platform, Facebook doesn’t want to miss the next one. And basically the consensus within the tech industry is that virtual and augmented reality is the next computing platform, spatial computing, embodied computing, having your body into the experience with these head-mounted devices that are either modulating your context with augmented reality or completely shifting your context with virtual reality.
CB: Right, because part of the thing is over the past decade the context has been mobile, everything’s been mobile and everything’s on our little mobile phones which are in that specific tablet sort of format, or is there another term for that? But basically that’s been the revolution over the past decade since 2007 is that, but that’s going to look at some point dated like a era of like, if you looked back at the 1970s and the type of cars or technology they were using today, that’s not going to be around as the standard interface with technology for that much longer necessarily as the main thing, like this is the main thing.
KB: Well, the caveat would be that whenever you have a new technology, it never really ever completely supplants the previous technology. So right now you have a PC computer that you’re using. You’re not using mobile phone because recording all this and it requires a certain level of processing. So I don’t expect phones to go away, but what we will see more than likely is to be able to use the augmented reality device that’s being powered by the phone. And so that’s what I started to see at Augmented World Expo. So yeah, you have these shifts in computing platforms that happen every so often. And with the mobile revolution that really started during the eighties and nineties, but really with the iPhone in 2007, which happened to be the opposition between Saturn and Neptune, that was part of that complex, the Wii was also coming out.
CB: And that’s a crazy one, because it’s rare that you see something just immediately when Steve Jobs did that demo in 2007, just things change rapidly overnight with the iPhone and all the different pieces of technology that it brought together, and then how rapidly it started taking over.
KB: Yeah, from 2007 into now it’s 2021. So that’s not that long ago that we’ve had a market penetration into the billions of people that are having some degree of smartphone around the world. So that’s a pretty remarkable time period that’s happened since 2007 when you look back at it.
CB: Well, and now the majority of, if you have anybody that runs a website knows or a blog or anything like that or a podcast knows the majority of your traffic and users are mobile users, it’s not desktop users at this point. And that’s why you have to have all websites optimized for mobile. And I remember when that shift happened in the like 2012, 2013, 2014 timeframe, when Google, for example, started penalizing you if you didn’t have a mobile optimized website.
KB: Yeah. And how this continues to unfold is still yet to be seen because there was already an existing say mobile ecosystem from the eighties and nineties that the iPhone was able to build on top of. But the virtual reality and augmented reality is like a completely new paradigm that not only doesn’t have an existing thing to build off on, you’re basically building it from scratch, but also the new design paradigms are completely different. So everything that happened with HTML and everything else with the DOM, the mobile wasn’t that big of a difference to go from responsive design to be able to change the CSS. I mean, took a number of years to be able to create one design of a website that could go for mobile and for the desktop PC and tablet. But to be able to then take that and to take that same design paradigm for an immersive virtual reality that’s fully embodied, that’s a completely different paradigm that is I think going to take probably longer for it to get to the point that… It’s not going to go as fast when it comes to the market penetration and the growth into the culture, but we see things like Roblox and Fortnite and Minecraft, the youth of this time, which I think is another part that’s worth mentioning for Facebook at the time now Meta, why they bought Oculus, is that it was reported from starting around 2013 up until 2021 with the Facebook whistleblower files, Frances Haugen. She was releasing data saying that the generation of the teenagers and the young adult have been consistently going down for all of Facebook properties since 2013. So all the teenagers and young adults have been flighting to other experiences like Snapchat or TikTok, other places on the web. So I think Facebook/Meta saw the writing on the wall that if they continue down this path, they were going to basically age out and that they weren’t going to have any future for their social network, because there was an entire lost generation of both the teenagers and the young adults that weren’t using their platforms. And so part of the reason why they’re taking this shift to completely rebrand their entire website and tune it more to those teenagers and young adults, make it more and more like TikTok over time or Snapchat, is because they want to make sure that they are reaching those target demographics that are going to be so lucrative. And also the future of the company, because if they’re not connecting to the youth, they’re not going to be growing over time. So that’s a part of the context for why they have rebranded themselves to be now Meta.
CB: Well, because I remember it happened within like a year timeframe, but I remember when the big social network in the mid two thousands was MySpace, and MySpace was really one of the first wildly successful social networks of that type. But then it was built on a certain technology from the early two thousands, and there was a turning point around 2008 and 2009 where MySpace like fell out of vogue and all of a sudden Facebook, which was built more recently and had much more up to date sort of like technology in terms of social networks, suddenly took off. And I remember over the course of a year where there’s just this mass exodus of everybody from MySpace to Facebook and similar exoduses of different websites or social networks like WAYN, Digg, suddenly there was an exodus after they did a website redesign and nobody liked the new redesign of the website, and everybody fled to Reddit around the 2009, 2010 timeframes. So sometimes stuff like that happens if websites or social networks don’t stay ahead of the curve. They can find themselves suddenly irrelevant almost overnight or over a very short period of time.
KB: Yeah, it’s a pretty bold move because Meta is driven by Zuckerberg as essentially kind of the benevolent dictator. But although it’s questionable as to how benevolent of sort of someone who has complete control over the company, a majority voting share to be able basically overrule the board in a way that he kind of singularly is driving the company. Now the benefit is that he’s able to make such a big change like this because this is something that in the short-term the shareholders may kind of freak out that this is not worth what they invested over last year, $10 billion of their profits into this whole realm of virtual reality, which is relative to their larger scale markets of billions of people, 3.58 billion people or how many other people they’ve announced in the last quarterly report relative to like say 8 to 10 million people using the virtual reality headsets. That’s such a small proportion, but the principles of exponential growth of a doubling over time is that 10 million goes to 20 million and then 40 then 80 then 160 million and then 320 million, all of a sudden you’re at this kind of hockey stick of exponential growth where it starts to just expand out super fast
CB: Well, and say what you will about him, but I remember back when Facebook took off seeing… I don’t think it was Time, maybe it was Wired or something, but just this cover story with his face and the title was like the man that turned down $1 billion. Because it was like, what was it? Yahoo offered him very early on in Facebook’s history to buy the company from him for a billion dollars. And he said no because he could see where it was going and how much it would be worth if he stuck with it basically. And instead of cashing out at that point, he stayed with the company and led it to what it is today.
KB: Yeah. And as amazing as the technology is, I always have a caveat, which is that there are things that they may not be the most ethical in terms of taking responsibility for our privacy. So yes, the quest is amazing for being able to have a $299 piece of equipment, but it is being subsidized and it’s being subsidized potentially by mortgaging your privacy through these different immersive technologies. But it’s sort of there’s not a lot of other competitors that are there that are competing against them right now in the standalone VR market, although I think over time they will be coming, because they’ve kind of hit a critical mass where they’ve started to develop enough of the ecosystem that makes it valuable enough for other developers to start to get in there. And there’s been things like OpenXR that means that there’s a consistent open platform, so that as we move forward they’ve been adopting things like OpenXR, meaning that someone could write an experience once and have it on to many different platforms. And so there are a lot of promising interoperable futures there. And if you look at what has happened and progressed from the first DK1 that was released in the spring of 2013 to DK2, the first computer the consumer launched the CV1 into the next iteration of the Rift S. And then there’s the whole Gear VR Oculus Go, this more self-contained mobile. And then the Quest, they’ve basically had this convergence between their PC VR and the standalone VR meaning that over this time period for what has been essentially this time period of the Uranus square Pluto time period has been a series of rapid innovation and evolution from the beginning of something as crude as the DK1 in 2013, all the way up to this self-contained magical device that does computer vision, is able to track you as you’re moving around the space, it’s able to track your hands do any hand tracking technologies, but it’s able to do all sorts of really amazing things. So it’s a new communication medium and how that medium is going to be applied across all these different domains of human experience, that’s what I have been doing on the podcast. In my episode 1000, I interviewed and featured 120 different people. And it’s a three-hour episode that kind of maps out the full cartography of all the different potentials of all the different industry domains, the industry verticals and the domains of human experience where virtual reality technologies are going to be applied. And it’s essentially just the same as say the internet or mobile computing, like you can think of just how much the internet has changed so many different aspects of society, every dimension of society. I suspect there’s going to be a similar shift as we move into more of this spatial computing.
CB: Yeah, and I remember after October I saw a interview with Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook after the shift to Meta where he was talking about the metaverse and the potentials for the future and when it would actually take off. And he just kept mentioning he wasn’t sure about an exact date, he hesitated to put an exact date on it, but he kept talking about the timeframe of the end of this decade of 2027, 2028 and 2029, which is part of what I found really interesting and why I started paying attention. Because I just kept thinking of Uranus going into Gemini and Pluto going into Aquarius that all the astrologers are anticipating in the second half of this decade and how much just symbolically from the astrological standpoint we would think technology would start to really accelerate and go kind of crazy at that point and to have a company as large as Facebook and the founder talking about that is his target timeframe when he thinks something like virtual reality and the metaverse is really going to kick in and take off as a major thing. And they’re betting that much money on it, that’s one of the reasons I’m really that my ears perked up and why I’m paying attention because when you see a confluence of like a business person giving that sort of projection and knowing the astrology behind that timeframe indicating major pivotal changes in terms of technology, then it’s time to pay attention.
KB: Yeah. Maybe you could bring up the graph that shows from 1951 into the future of 2051, so a hundred years, and then maybe we can talk a little bit about kind of prognosticating into the future as it were.
KB: No, go back one just to sort of help set the larger context and then we’ll move forward one. So this is a little bit of a visualization of looking at we were looking at from the sixties and the nineties and then from 2007 to 2020, looking at those three aspects of between the conjunction between Uranus and Pluto, the conjunction between Uranus and Neptune and then the square between Uranus and Pluto. But if you spread it out further into 1951 on out into 2051, then you can start to see maybe a trajectory of where things have gone and where things are going. So this is for me a lot of times when you do a Tarnasian type of analysis, you tend to look at it, you almost collapse all the other things that are happening. And so in this visualization, I think the important thing is to note is that there’s always other aspects that maybe say the Saturn that’s in relation to both Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, they’re often coinciding with a lot of these different larger transits. So for example, in the sixties when you had the conjunction between Uranus and Pluto, you have an opposition between Saturn and Pluto and Saturn and Uranus. And so in the midst of the sixties while you had all this sort of revolution and liberation and sort of the Woodstock kind of hippie things you think about the exalted aspects of the sixties, you also had the Vietnam war and all these other aspects of civil rights that were really quite violent and more of that sort of Saturn-Pluto aspect as well. So as we move into then the beginning of the next phase of the nineties, when you had this explosion of the worldwide web and just the very early beginnings of enterprise VR, you also had in 1988, you had the conjunction between Saturn and Uranus, and then in 1989, the conjunction between Saturn and Neptune, which because those happened so close to each other, I have to imagine that there is something about the beginning of those new cycles happening at the very beginning of this other larger cycle that is sort of characterizing why the internet took root to really have this network that was able to basically create what has transformed all of commerce and the way that we communicate, instantaneous communication around the world. But it was also difficult to look at what was the contribution of the Saturn-Neptune and what was the contribution of the Saturn-Uranus because they were all happening very close to each other. So it’s not until right now that we can see what happened from the consumer launch of all the AR VR during the third quarter square of Saturn and Neptune, and with all this talk of both cryptocurrencies and NFTs and also the metaverse that has happened throughout the course of 2021, that is really happening in the heart of this confluence between Saturn and Uranus. So if we look at that–
CB: And we’ve got the third and final exact square happening this month later at the end of December of 2021, although they’ll come back within one degree of orb in the third quarter of 2022.
KB: Yeah. And we can look back through what those have meant over time now that we’re at that point. When I wrote the article for the Archai journal of the archetypal cycles, I didn’t even look at Saturn and Uranus because it was hard for me to know what was correlated to. But now after this year, after all this talk about the metaverse, I can look back and see how there’s certain aspects at the beginning of Saturn-Uranus, where you think about from an economic perspective, there was an economic disruption for all these different companies that had to think about how to do commerce online and how they’re going to sort of change their marketing, but also just to change the way that people bought stuff virtually through these websites. But then you jump to the first quarter square, maybe if you go to the next slide, it’ll have a little bit more of a breakout. So this is kind of breaking down the different sort of cycles across… These are kind of the Saturn influence of both the outer planets of Pluto and Neptune and Uranus, and you kind of spread that across all the different sort of diachronic cycles or the quadrature cycle. So in other words, the conjunction square opposition in the third quarter square and then into the next conjunction. So as we look at this series, it basically takes us back to the eighties to ’88 and ’89, which is kind of the beginning of where the internet began. So with all these discussions about the metaverse, that was kind of like under that influence when Neal Stephenson had written the book Snow Crash that was talking about the metaverse. So there’s kind of a correlation between that Saturn and Uranus that is connected there. But there’s also dimensions of cryptocurrencies that I think are probably worth a mention here, because you had the first quarter square if you go back in a second, I forget the dates exactly. Sorry.
CB: The first quarter square is the nineties?
KB: No, the first quarter square, it was around 2000 or so between Saturn and Uranus. So if you look at from July of 1998 to May of 2001, that was the first quarter square between Saturn and Uranus, that was really the dot-com bubble that burst. So it was kind of like a lot of pets.com kind of overinflated expectations for what the future of online commerce would be. And it was kind of like overvalued and it kind of crashed, and the dot-com crash kind of created a backlash in some ways. But then by the time you get to the opposition, that was when you have the subprime mortgage crash. So we’re talking the Saturn opposite Uranus that was happening between September of 2007 and then July of 2012. So that was when the subprime mortgage crisis had happened. It kind of crashed the economy in some ways. And in result, that was when Satoshi Nakamoto had created the first Bitcoin transaction that happened, I think some time in like, what was it, 2008 or so.
CB: Yeah, it was at the end of 2008.
KB: And he basically took the headline in what was happening in the… Well, I think it was somewhere in London, was basically like the banks are getting bailed out. So there’s kind of a metaphoric sign for the beginning of the cryptocurrencies was in response to the excesses of fiat currency and these banks getting bailed out. So you have the beginnings of, in that opposition between Saturn and Uranus, some sort of cryptographically secured currency for people to start to exchange value. And then if we jump into the current day, we’ve basically had an explosion of non-fungible tokens, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies, especially over the course of this year where it’s kind of got up to this level of hype cycle, which for me I see as a part of that Saturn-Uranus complex to the point where it is probably going to be a part of the metaverse, but there’s also quite a lot of scams and grifters and folks in which that they’re kind of there’s the old story of the tulip bulbs where people are exchanging value based upon speculation where there may not be inherent value beyond this kind of constructed hype around something that may not actually… The multi-level marketing or the pyramid scheme where some people benefit, but it kind of basically collapses because it’s not sustainable in a way. So there’s some people at the end of it that end up getting really screwed over where they lose a lot of money and other people really benefit. So there’s an element of cryptocurrencies that are kind of in that phase, and I’m unsure as to whether or not it’ll mature to the point to be able to kind of create this more egalitarian future that is more equal exchange that is rather than just a handful of people benefiting it’s this tension between the centralization to the decentralization. And are we going to really live into the full potential of decentralized technologies where the internet was started as a decentralized technology back in 1988, and we’re kind of coming back to that as we move into how everything that we have in technology since 2006, 2007, 2008 opposition has basically been a handful of companies with Twitter and Facebook and Snap and TikTok, so most of our experience has been modulated to that centralization. So will we move back to a decentralized future? But the business models are kind of an open question. So as I look at some of the different underlying dialectical tensions and how things play out, we’re looking at a conjunction between Saturn and Uranus that’s going to be sometime in 2032, what is it? In July of 2030 to June of 2034. So that is going to be kind of a mile marker which ends up being around the time that Mark Zuckerberg is saying about 10 years from now he wants to have a billion people on the metaverse. So we’re starting with the virtual reality technologies now that are kind of leading towards this potential future of 2034.
CB: Yeah. And so Ready Player One, which eventually Steven Spielberg made into a movie. I re-watched Minority Report from 2002 recently, and I was surprised at how well they actually did anticipating some technologies that now are already there or that are actually much more feasible in the not too distant future than they were 20 years ago, because he actually consulted with futurologists at the time in order to get pretty reasonable projections of some things that were possible aside from the not time travel, but predictive prophecy type part of the story. But some of the stuff from Ready Player One is more actually feasible within the next 10 years or so in terms of the metaverse being a major thing that a lot of people are participating in in terms of a virtual world that exists out there that people are interacting with through virtual reality.
KB: Yeah. Alex McDowell is one of the world builders that worked on Minority Report, and he tells a story of being hired onto the project before there was even a script. And so part of his process of world building is to talk to experts from lots of different backgrounds and to be able to start to dream into the future. So the Minority Report’s kind of a project that’s cited to have generated anywhere from like 50 or 100 different patents or something like that. So they’re able to kind of do this future dreaming world building process that allows them to kind of project out into the future, which you can start to do within virtual reality proper. So yeah, but there’s ways in which as I look at where things are at right now and where we’re going to the future, that Saturn-Uranus has sort of got an economic context, there’s probably a technological aspect there as well, but I think we may not see that until 2032. We’ll really see maybe the progress because when I wrote the article for the Archai journal, it was in 2017. And for me it was actually very clear for how the Saturn-Neptune was playing out, because I could start to see that every single major virtual and augmented reality headset that was launching in a very close tight timeframe within three or four degrees of the square between Saturn-Neptune, the third quarter square. And if you go back in time and look at the conjunction back in 1989, that was when the Game Boy came out. So kind of taking the game technologies, but portablizing it. That was from 1983 was Nintendo, then not that far away from 1989, you have the Game Boy. So portable gaming, which was driving a lot of the interactions within mobile computing. And then in 2007, that first quarter square, is when you get… Or the 1999 was the next one, the first quarter square between Saturn and Neptune, that was when you… Yeah, maybe if you just go over to the graphic. So from that first quarter square between June 1997 to November of 1999, that was when The Matrix had come out, but a number of different things like the Truman Show and reality TV is starting to come up.
CB: Well, broadband, I mean, I remember the late nineties and the early two thousands, and that was when broadband internet took over and displaced dial up. And suddenly that was a game changer for what you could do on the internet when you weren’t constrained to a 28 kilobits per second or whatever connection.
KB: Yeah. In the future, we’re going to have 5G connectivity, which is going to be fiber length connectivity basically anywhere. So that’s also going to be a part of driving the future of all these immersive technologies. But just to finish out the Saturn-Neptune because I think it’s kind of interesting just to see how you started with a Game Boy, then you had the Blackberry that was launched in 1999, so the Saturn is sort of the structures of reality and the Neptune kind of blending and blurring natures of reality. So the Blackberry you think about the blending and the blurring of when you’re at work and when you’re at home and when you send emails, so that was happening in the 1999 timeframe. And then coming into full bloom is when you had the iPhone. So that was the opposition between Saturn and Neptune. So we think about our smartphones and there’s these kind of devices that we’re escaping into these other portals of reality. You go into any space and people are kind of checked out into this… It’s kind of a virtual world that people are kind of shooting into, even though if it’s 2D, that’s not immersive, but they’re basically this kind of Neptunian kind of checking out type of doomscrolling type of phenomena that we have.
CB: Yeah, the Saturn-Uranus opposition that occurred around the release of the iPhone is really notable in terms of breaking free of having to be stuck at a desk and the restrictions of having to access the internet while you’re sitting stationary at your desktop computer or even your laptop versus being able to be literally anywhere and using your phone or accessing the internet. That probably can’t be understated then and is probably then one of the things connected with that cycle.
KB: Yeah. You mentioned the Saturn-Uranus, but it was also Saturn-Neptune. They were very close to each other. So they’re probably both into play there because it was such a big turning event, but in the Tarnasian orbs, you have from July 2005 into August of 2008 for the… Oh wait, no. As I look at the… Yeah, so the Saturn opposite Neptune from July, 2005 to the August of 2008 and then the September of 2007 into July of 2012 of the Saturn opposite Uranus. So that probably accounts for both the launch, the consumer launch of the technology and it taking off so quickly, it was really adopted. And then we had during the context of the overarching Uranus square Pluto from 2007 to 2020, all these immersive technologies are being developed, but then the actual consumer launches were very tightly correlated between the Saturn square Neptune, which was happening from 2014 to 2017. And the next conjunction is actually happening at zero degrees Aries that’s coming up here in March of 2024 and between April of 2027. Now I don’t normally look at the sign-based aspects, you mentioned the [Gemini].
CB: Yeah, I was going to mention I have a lot of respect for Tarnas’s approach, and I’m going to have him on, he’s going to do the Pluto episode with me at the end of the year. And I think it does an amazing job of focusing in a really crystal clear way on the planetary cycles and those alignments, and especially the hard alignments as being the great things. But I think it is missing I think that sign compa……. that you’d be surprised at some of the additional information you can get that’s actually valid and useful that can flash out some of the things. And I think you might be surprised if you’re waiting for 2030 for how much that ingress of Uranus into Gemini and the ingress of Pluto into Aquarius in the second half of this decade is going to shake some things up technologically.
KB: Yeah. I personally don’t look at it as much, I kind of follow Tarnas in that, because I feel like in the context of only the last 100 years of technological revolution, we don’t have a lot of things, maybe close enough analogs to be able to look back into deep history, whereas some of the different relationships between these planetary archetypes, there seems to be maybe a through line between the past and the future that I haven’t seen. It may be there, but no one’s done the scholarship to the same degree as Tarnas to be able to really explicate all of that. I know Nick Dagan Best has talked about Uranus in Gemini and through the different signs, but it’s not at the same level of scholarship as Tarnas as the comprehensive nature of something like Cosmos and Psyche. So until someone out there does that, then I’m going to sort of suspend judgment from looking too much into the sign-based stuff. Because I do think that you can still get quite a lot of information from only looking at the planetary archetypes independent of whatever’s happening in the signs.
CB: Yeah, I think you can get a ton of information. I just think there’s sometimes additional shades and sometimes like I was telling you last night, that given the co-presences of two planets, when they’re in the same sign, even outer planets can sometimes increase the active period when some of those combinations are together, especially in hard aspects of the conjunction square opposition in ways that you would be surprised if you’re only looking at the orb-based approach of 10 or 15 degrees.
KB: Yeah. I think, well, a lot of the approach of these different types of archetypal cosmology only has looked at these outer planet transits and they change signs, like it takes a long time. So I’ll be curious if there is any type of correspondences if you look at the faster moving planets, whether it’s Jupiter, Mars or Venus or Mercury or even the Sun. But because of the length of some of these things–
CB: There definitely is. I mean, that’s what we do on the month ahead forecast constantly, especially during the pandemic or other things over the past several years.
KB: Yeah. Well, I guess for my own practice, I haven’t integrated it as much because I think there’s a certain part where I try to abstract different aspects of the principles, but not to sort of tie myself too much to the story of astrology, almost to kind of hold it very loosely where if it helps me tell the story, then there’s some benefit, but it’s like, I don’t know, there’s a part of me I think that goes into that kind of just being embodied and being present without trying to elect or deconstruct too much through that astrological lens. Because I do think that there’s many different lenses. But I think that’s the… For any person that is doing a lot of immersive experiences, I would love to hear someone that goes a deep dive into their own personal transits and what’s happening with what they’re experiencing and if they’re able to isolate what may be emerging from their own nuances of their own experience within these experiences like within VR. But there hasn’t been anybody that has had that sophisticated of an archetypal language that has been doing that, and I would love to see it once people do it.
CB: Yeah, so let’s see. So the next alignments you’re talking… So you’re talking about the Saturn-Neptune conjunction that’s coming up pretty soon here. And what was the timeframe you gave?
KB: It’s March of 2024 to April of 2027.
CB: And that’s giving it a 15 degree orb?
KB: Because it’s a conjunction, yeah, it’s a 15 degree orb. And the conjunction I think happens sometime in 2025. So if we look, it’s 2021 right now, it’s expected that a lot of the launches of augmented reality headsets are probably going to be coming from both Apple and Meta. So we’re likely to see with this next conjunction between Saturn and Neptune, that’s when we’ll probably see a lot of the augmented reality headsets that are coming from Apple. Apple’s been working on stuff quietly, but they always kind of hang back and wait for the right time and then launch something out that has a lot of the human computer interactions really fleshed out. So I expect that to be around the timeframe of 2024, 2025.
CB: Yeah, that’s something I talked a lot about on the year ahead forecast that I just released today, was just the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction that’s happening this year and how the last time that that happened, at the very tailend of it, we had the release of James Cameron’s Avatar and the launch of this sort of like 3D craze in cinema. And that was the highest grossing movie at the time. And then it led all of the movie theaters to suddenly install 3D projectors and is almost kind of a quasi AR type experience, I guess, we might frame it in this context of augmented reality type experience, but since you’re just wearing the glasses and it’s allowing the 3D image to come through and giving you a more immersive experience in the cinema, but you’re otherwise still like sitting there largely in reality and you know that you’re in a movie theater and stuff like that.
KB: Yeah, just a quick thing. I don’t know if that would be augmented reality, because augmented reality is really about placing objects within a spatial context as you’re moving around in the world, which is different than a 3D movie, which is a stereoscopic display of something that is… It’s a lot of different, I guess, different computer technology that has to do the computer vision and the overlaying and the combinations. So I mean, there’s a mixed reality spectrum that Milgram talked about, but yeah, I do think that Avatar was able to do a lot of those innovations and I’m really curious to see how it continues to make those different innovations with this next iteration.
CB: Yeah. And so I associate that partially at least with the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction Aquarius 12 years ago, and we’re about to have another Jupiter-Neptune conjunction in Aquarius this year. And part of what that was was it’s tied into… I was reading about movie theory, film theory earlier this year and the importance of the suspension of disbelief and the ability of the audience to suspend disbelief is actually proportionally tied in to their ability to enjoy the movie in some ways. And so it’s a really interesting component when it comes to film and some of the sort of things that came about with moving pictures after the discovery of Neptune and how sometimes having that sense of having your senses deceive in some way and being able to suspend the idea of disbelief and feel like you’re there experiencing something when you’re not I guess as part as part of it. And yeah, so this year the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction in Pisces, and if we’re going to see some things like that with Apple releasing or at least announcing a headset or in augmented reality glasses or alternatively the James Cameron’s sequel to Avatar like Avatar 2 is supposedly scheduled for later this year in December, which is kind of interesting because that’s the tailend of Jupiter in Pisces with Neptune just like it was 12 years earlier. And I kind of didn’t think he was going to be able to pull it off again most of the past decade that he’s been working on this, but I wonder if he will be able to introduce some additional factor that could take it to the next level in terms of whatever he’s shooting for as part of that cinematic experience.
KB: Yeah. And the points you’re making about Neptune really takes me back to the turn of the century, the beginning of the epoch that was the conjunction between Neptune and Pluto, that’s like this 500-year cycle. That was when film, the moving image was really coming into being. And if you contrast the moving image in film to the previous epoch where the printing press was happening, you have the printed word which is very linear and very much based upon imagining and reading text. But the image is much more holistic in that way, and so the poll past a hundred plus years with the history of film has really dictated where the culture is being shaped within, especially around the world with these different movies. And so moving from a text-based culture into an image-based culture, and we’ve seen a similar shift from even how the technologies have started with social media, which is about sending around text updates into moving into photos and then moving into videos. And then now we’re moving into the fully immersive technologies. So you had the beginning of that context of this 500-year cycle, starting with film with that Neptune conjunct Pluto. And then in that first quarter square between the Uranus and Neptune that happened in the fifties is when black and white television went viral and basically went all over the country. So this kind of rapid innovation and quick disruption of the Uranian impulse with that Neptunian impulse of bringing television across the United States. And then moving into now we’re looking into all these different Neptunian elements of being connected to these different things from the Game Boy to the BlackBerry to the iPhone, and to all these virtual reality headsets and then eventually probably what we’re heading into is these augmented reality headsets. And so we’re kind of moving into those Neptunian worlds and how do you navigate that and still maintain ground and not get into the negative aspects of Neptune, which is that escapism and disillusionment.
CB: Right. Yeah, I always think of my friend, Alan White, the astrologer, when you talk about the discovery of Neptune, he always talked about how they started printing images in newspapers from the civil war. And he talked about how people were blown away because they would look at this picture from a battlefield that was printed in this newspaper. And they would say, “Look at this, we’re looking at the actual scene. You can actually see it.” Because they’d never seen anything that life like or realistic as an image being recreated like that. But then his point was that but what it actually is is it’s just ink, splotches of ink that have been thrown on a piece of paper in order to give the illusion that you’re looking at that scene when you’re actually not, you’re just looking at splotches of ink on a piece of paper. And I always think about that when it comes to Neptune, the ability to create something that your senses that can trick your senses into thinking that they’re seeing they’re there or that they’re seeing something real when it’s actually not or when it’s actually a recreation in some way.
KB: Yeah, it’s a simulation. And then there’s always going to be this question as to what degree are you able to kind of match or meet the simulated experiences with the real experiences. And certainly when you talk about touch and taste and smell, these are all things that go above and beyond what the technology can feasibly do in a reasonable fashion today. I mean, haptics, there’s low-level haptics, and we already have like pretty good handle on both the visual affordances and the sound and the spatial audio. But the haptics, even though there’s kind of [lightweight] haptics, it’s not like you could simulate the touching of different fabrics and textures as an example. There may be things of kind of fooling the mind and to do that, having the visual affordances of that and having just enough of the feedback from the touch, but I didn’t mention Morton Heilig and the Sensorama, but this was something that was created in late fifties and early sixties, which was basically trying to create this sensory experience that had stereoscopic images, but also all these different aspects of touch and feel and all these things that we kind of consider virtual reality. So but there’s going to be certainly limits in terms of how much you can go into there with what those technologies can do.
CB: All right. So I want to start talking about some of the ways in which astrologers, tangible concrete examples of how astrologers either can or will start using virtual reality in the near future in different ways. And part of my context for that is having that experience 15 to 17 years ago in the mid 2000s, where there was that virtual world Second Life, where people had avatars, and they could buy land in Second Life, there was a digital currency in Second Life that had real world value and the money could be transferred outside of there into dollars or whatever. People interacted and had social networks in that. And I was running the most popular astrology forum at the time on MySpace. And that was where a lot of young 20-year-old astrologers, I was in my early twenties at the time, would hang out and meet up in MySpace. And we eventually started holding some astrology meetings in Second Life. So some of the instances of things that were happening already then even though it wasn’t virtual reality at that time, it was more like playing a 3D game or a 3D social network in some sense. I did some consultations in Second Life at the time with actual clients, astrology consultations or birth chart readings. We held some astrology group meetings sort of virtually. Nick Dagan Best, for example, I think he gave a talk on Venus retrograde cycles within Second Life to audience, 30 something people. There was a potential to do conferences, people were also sometimes publishing books or releasing articles and stuff within that. So there was some publishing going on and many of the same discussions and things that were already being done in Second Life back then, I’m hearing some of those discussions come back up today within the context of the metaverse and virtual reality, where now with the headsets, people can do some of the same things, but have a much more immersive experience. And I can already see how astrologers will start doing probably some of the same things in virtual reality if they’re not already in the very near future.
KB: Yeah. Well, this is a huge question. I think I actually wrote an entire article in The Ascendant that was kind of exploring some of these potentials of how this intersection between the astrological community and these immersive technologies, whether it’s virtual or augmented reality.
CB: And The Ascendant is the journal for the Association for Young Astrologers?
CB: What volume was it?
KB: I think it was volume one where I started to kind of do more speculation. Volume two, I also had an article where I was talking more about mathematics as a philosophical foundation for astrology and kind of the future of how do we judge knowledge and what’s true or not true within kind of the network effects of people saying different things, but that’s sort of an aside. Getting back to the question which was around, what are people going to do in these immersive worlds in the context of astrology? I think I can break it down in a number of ways. And I think you can probably project what’s going to happen first and what’s already happening, frankly. And so if I look at identity expression and the filters that are happening, so people being able to take on embodiments within these virtual avatars that may be kind of like a psychodrama of embodying different aspects of their character, so that when you put on a virtual representation of yourself, you may be able to fully live into different aspects of your Saturn or your Mars. And there may be a character that you’re playing into that is trying to work out different psychodynamics. And we already start to see that within say Snapchat, where people have these facial filters, where they’re able to kind of embody different personalities. You can think about those avatar representations of those facial filters as a modulation of your character. And either you’re stepping into somebody else’s character that’s not your character or it may be a part of you expressing a part of your essential character that is just getting access to it because you’re able to see a real time feedback of a different type of embodiment that you’re not quite used to. So I actually think in terms of embodiment, there’s going to be quite a lot of experimentation, both on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram and TikTok with augmented reality filters, but also in worlds like VR chat, where you’re able to embody your own character and maybe create a whole series of different types of avatar representations that allow you to kind of tune in to different aspects of your own character.
CB: Right. And so there’s going to be real like first house astrologically things surrounding self and appearance and representation and things like that in terms of people having the choice to you either to represent themselves however they want, and either attempt to recreate their real world appearance or make something completely different.
KB: Yeah. They’re already doing that in a lot of ways where, like I said, either it’s they’re kind of stepping outside of themselves to express themselves or it may just be a part of themselves they’re getting access to that they couldn’t have have access to before. And we already start to see that with avatar culture and virtual tubing and stuff like that. I expect to see that both on the individual way where you’re kind of broadcasting yourself out into the world say in a social media, but in terms of the context of a group, what’s it mean to start to embody yourself as in the context of other people that are responding to you within that avatar representation, and you may start to see more stuff like astro dramas, where people kind of archetypely play out different… Maybe a chart where they’re having different avatar representations of a single chart, but kind of playing it out in kind of like a family constellation type of thing, but in the spirit of astro drama. So I haven’t seen as much like that, but that’s probably another area. In terms of where I think the potentials of this is going in the future is, what would it be like to be in an immersive world that is matching the archetypal dynamics of whatever transit you’re going through right now? So you go into this kind of dreamlike experience that is maybe giving these stories or these provocations, but they’re trying to in some ways provoke some of the deeper dynamics that you may be going through either to bring it into your conscious awareness or to put you in a situation that is allowing you to make a choice and to see what the outcome of those choices may be. So this is a case where you’re making choices and taking action. Are there ways to be able to match those choices that are in the same archetypal realm as the dynamics that are already happening in your life? Now, this is something that outside of the astrological context would be extremely difficult to do. I mean, there is a immersive theater company called Odyssey Works, where they do like interviews with say 40 or 50 people of your family to try to customize a very specific experience for you that’s like a ritual experience that’s trying to create this transformative experience based upon doing interviews with dozens and dozens of people that know and love you. And so that’s the Odyssey Works, but imagine what you could do in the absence of doing all those different interviews if you just start to do that within the context of astrological information, looking at what the transits are coming up. Is there some type of experience that you can go through that’s able to as you walk out of it you learn more about yourself and what you’re going through. So that’s more the experiential side, but I think another aspect, I mean, just sort of a mundane thing in terms of you have a community for The Astrology Podcast, there’s Discord channels that a lot of these communities have, but there’s still even within the context of Discord, you can have direct messages, but it’s different than having a party vibe where you feel like you’ve created a shared context and a shared tension. And so I expect to have parties and invitations where people come just like you have with NORWAC. You have people that are there to hear these different lectures, but in the context of those lectures, they’re able to meet up and chat with people.
CB: I mean, local astrology groups and the importance of in-person astrology meetings has been something that was an interesting thing that’s been hard with younger astrologers over the past 10 to 20 years, where I remember when I came into the astrological community in the mid 2000s, and I would go to conferences and the older astrologers who largely the last big generation that came into the community in the 1960s, they were born largely in the 1940s, the Pluto in Leo generation. And in the mid 2000s, they were all kind of panicked and wondering, “Where are all the young people?” And I would go to a conference and there wouldn’t be that many young people there, but I would often find them online sometimes, but they weren’t coming to conferences and they didn’t know the importance of going to an actual physical location and meeting other astrologers. But then oftentimes once they did, they became more integrated into the community. And it helped in terms of issues of not just tradition, but the sort of student-teacher relationship and lineage. It really established more of a sense of lineage some of the in-person connections that would take place both at conferences, as well as local astrology groups. And of course, one of the things that happened over the past year with COVID is most of the astrology groups suddenly had to stop meeting up and largely went online like on Zoom, if at all. But I could definitely see like astrology groups meeting up or larger astrology conferences happening, but maybe one of the things we should explain is what’s the appeal or what would be the appeal about doing that in virtual reality instead of Zoom? And it’s that sense of the embodied sort of presence, right?
KB: Well, the embodied presence, but also the agency to be able to choose who you talk to. And when you make the choice of who to talk to at the right moment, you have more of those moments of serendipitous collisions that happen at these gatherings. Granted that’s still difficult to really recreate within these virtual environments, there’s rare occurrences where I’ve seen that happen. Burning Man within VR is probably one of the rare exceptions where you kind of recreate the player magic within the context of virtual reality. But when we look at say the aspect of… When I think about gathering, I think about the work of Priya Parker, The Art of Gathering. And the thing that she emphasizes again and again and again, is that you send out an invitation and the invitation sets the shared intention for why you’re gathering, what the purpose of gathering is, it’s setting the context. And so once that context is set, then it creates this intentional field where people are entering that field with the open-mindness of possibility. Most of the different types of gatherings that we’ve seen are still in the one to many broadcast model mode, where you come to hear me speak or you come to hear a couple of people speak. But to really think about this as a gathering of more of a meetup for people to just kind of mingle around and talk to each other, but in the context of an invitation that allows them to have a shared context to be able to start to meet. There’s been a lot of people that have been going into VR to be able to do language learning and to kind of be able to have an opportunity to speak a language that they’re learning with other native speakers. And I feel like astrology’s kind of like that, where in order to really get to this point of being fluent, you have to not only listen and understand what people are saying, but also be able to speak it as well. And so in that context, I feel like these immersive environments could provide opportunities for people to connect to each other if they’re in a community where there’s not a lot of other astrologers within their community, where they’re able to kind of meet up and start to have those conversations that they couldn’t have anywhere else.
CB: Right, that’s a really good point. So astrology is a language and how, especially in a consultation, one of the things that’s hard when you’re studying ancient astrology is we have a bunch of, for example, birth charts that survive from the Mesopotamian tradition from like 500, 400 BCE or even the Hellenistic tradition, a bunch of Greek horoscopes, but it’s just the chart with the placements. And it doesn’t contain usually like the actual interpretation or delineation, because for the most part that would’ve been done verbally in person with an astrologer and a client sitting down for most of its history as a conversation between the two and as a verbal exchange. And I’m thinking about like two extremes in terms of consultations, where on the one hand you have that extreme version of sitting there with an astrologer in person and having a conversation and how it’s not just words, but also the environment that you’re in at the time. And there’s a lot of like nonverbal things that happen in communication when you’re sitting and talking with two people in terms of like their eyes or their facial expressions or their body language or different things like that that are different verbal cues that are conveyed in a conversation in-person, right?
KB: I think for most people when they give a reading, they’ll probably likely still use Zoom because you do actually have quite a lot of body language in that emotional expression of your facial micro expressions that give you these indications of what someone’s feeling. I think that is quite powerful. In the context of a consultation, VR has quite a long ways to go to match and be on parity with that. There’s certainly ways that Meta has shown these different prototypes that start to extrapolate all these different facial expressions. But for right now, you can do way better with that Zoom. However, I do think in the future when we think about the types of spatial and visual communication, the challenge whenever… I’m not sure if you fall into this camp, I certainly do, certainly when I hear someone kind of rattle off a series of different things really quickly about their chart and it’s like, “Oh wait, I have to actually kind of see it.” And there’s something about the nonlinear portal that you’re able to kind of as a gestalt, your visual acuities for being able to see all these different patterns you have to have the direct experience of actually seeing it rather than being able to reconstruct all that stuff in your mind. So I do think there is a lot of possibility for what’s it mean to be able to start to spatially show these things in a way that actually may stick in people’s mind where some people have an amazing memory for charts that they do for people. They can just remember all their client’s charts that they’ve ever read for, but for us being in a spatial environment and actually creating not only spatial like relationships, but potentially even like spatial experiences that are archetypely expressing someone’s chart. So if you’re trying to explain the principles of Mars or the principles of Saturn, then are there ways that you could have a little animation that are playing out that are kind of relative to their sign or relative to like give them an experience of something or just like there’s an archetypal complex, so there’s usually a whole range of different experiences. So are there going to be a range of different immersive experiences that kind of onboards you into what each of these archetypes mean in their full multivalent expression of all the different potentials because archetypes are like these multifaceted daemons, and you never know exactly what dimension of those daemons are going to be applying. It’s based on a lot of different factors that are the realms of potential that are this non-Boolean logic that has to be collapsed into the Boolean logic of the actual reality when it actually happens. But it’s very difficult always to know how the potential kind of translates into the actual. And so it’s useful for people who are getting onboarded into the astrological tradition to be fluent in the full spectrum of all those different facets of the archetypes. And so I do expect that we’ll see a series of different experiences that are kind of helping to bootstrap people in. And to what degree are we going to move into a world where it’s going to be way better of an experience to have this fully immersive experience that you’re able to have all these multimodal immersive and spatial dimensions to be able to give to somebody that maybe transcend anything that you tell them, they have the experience and maybe they figure it out on their own. Or at least it gives them an insight that’s astrologers like Steven Forrest use this storytelling in a way that is able to really tune into a deeper story about someone’s life. And it’s just like surrendering into that story that they’re able to have these deep insights that go above and beyond what you may be able to abstractly describe to somebody. And so I think there’s something powerful there where sometimes with a story that’s universal enough or at least that’s matching your own archetypal dynamics, you’re able to maybe understand it in a way that goes above and beyond if someone was to kind of more abstractly describe it to you outside of the context of a story, because our brains are kind of wired for story. So because of that I think that these immersive experiences are going to be tapping into that in ways that we can’t even imagine right now.
CB: Right. Yeah, and definitely long term possibilities in terms of the future and in terms of what’s created and some of the options that astrologers are given in terms of that. I do think of if in-person consultation between astrologer and client is like one extreme, the opposite end of that would be like an astrologer writing a letter where they delineate the chart and the client has no ability to ask questions. It’s just the astrologer delineating the chart sort of cold and sending it to them and like that’s the end of the conversation. And let’s say that’s one extreme. And then the next step up from that might be a telephone conversation where you’re talking by voice, let’s say it’s like the 1980s or something like that. And you’re having a telephone conversation, but you can’t see the astrologer, you’re just hearing their voice and they’re describing the chart to you or something like that. And then the next level up from that is, let’s say, video conferencing. So you have both their voice as well as a image of them talking and you can see some of their facial expressions and maybe they can show the chart on the screen at the time. I mean, it does seem like there’s some next level up that could be virtual reality in terms of that either in the short-term or the long-term in terms of providing some additional feature that isn’t present in the previous step. And I noticed that there’s different astrologers that prefer different mediums and there’s different clients that prefer different mediums in terms of written consultations, audio, prerecorded audio recordings, in-person consultations, or ones over Zoom or Skype or what have you. So I have to imagine that there’s also going to be both astrologers as well as clients that might prefer one medium like VR over doing it in person or over texting it or doing over the phone or what have you.
KB: Yeah, it reminds me as you speak about that, there’s all these affordances for the communication media, but there’s also a temperamental preference for people for what they prefer. So kind of matching that in terms of understanding how to tune an experience based upon someone’s chart. So based upon where their Mercury placement may be or whatever it ends up being where you decide what would be the best mode of communicating this. The other aspect is, well, in terms of the consultation context, there’s the to what degree are we going to be able to take what is essentially it’s a 2D image of a 3D representation of the planets. It’s the natal chart, which ends up being a portal into all these relational dynamics that are mysteriously interacting with each other.
Well, I remember back when I was very getting into Rick Tarnas’s work, I didn’t realize that there was a feature called the graphic ephemeris within Solar Fire and so I was basically reconstructing and reinventing the graphic ephemeris without really knowing about it. And I remember going to NORWAC and showing people like Tarnas and Mark Jones spreadsheets of all these different graphs of ephemeris data and Mark Jones told me, he’s like, “This is worthless to me. I can’t get any information out of this. I need to see the nonlinear portal of the chart to really understand.”
What that really taught me was that you can linearize all this information as much as you want, but if it’s in the absence of the original context of that chart then astrologically, it’s not going to be as powerful. So a lot of the work that I’ve done is trying to match those two things together, whether it’s natal transits or looking at the Time Lords. But when we think about moving into a virtual context, at this point, the 2D representation of that chart is still by and far superior to anything that you can think of adding a spatial 3D dimension, so we’re still at the very beginnings for what this means to start to translate having access to the spatial medium. But if you were to do a one-to-one literal translation of the planets, you wouldn’t be able to see the outer planets because they were so far away. You need to do some level of symbolic translation so that you can see them. And then on top of that, understand what is going to make it that same thing that Mark Jones told me that he needed the nonlinear portal to be able to look into.
It’s one thing to make a one-one translation of 3D space, but is that going to be a nonlinear portal? Are you going to be able to make delineations based upon that, that are meaningful to someone’s life? Maybe you are able to visualize declination in a way that we haven’t before. I expect that there’s going to be maybe ranges of different type of astrological techniques that when they’re used in culmination all together, it’s going to allow people to… Maybe you pull up one chart and you have all the progressions, all the solar arcs, all the Zodiacal Releasing, all the transits, all these eclipses. You don’t have to draw 15 different things up in Solar Fire, you basically push one button and it’s basically all the information you could possibly need is right there. And so, having all that access, is that something that’s going to allow people to make faster delineations in the moment.
There’s that within the context of a reading. But what would that look like if you have that moment to moment? You can cast a chart for any moment to see what’s rising or what’s on the Midheaven. But what if you have these augmented reality glasses on? Or even within virtual reality, are there some data visualization such that you could always know where your relationship is between you and the rest of the cosmos so that you could start to have this deeper dialectic and conversation with what Hillman brought back the term of the anima mundi, the world soul, which is this deeper patterning of these archetypal dynamics. Can you start to have an ambient awareness of those different patterns and then start to take actions in the moment that feels like you’re really acting in reaction to whatever is emerging in the moment that allows you to make these more informed decisions based upon what is happening in the cosmos and what you’re feeling on your inside?
I feel like that is the type of astrological magic moment to moment that usually it’s like all set up beforehand. But what happens if it’s more real time, and more iterative, and more reactionary in that way, where it’s just an ambient overlook where you’re just able to be aware? And how does that change your relationship for understanding not only the archetypal palette, but also to understand what the meaning is moment to moment?
CB: One of the things I can already see is we already have freeware or open-source programs like Stellarium which is an astronomy program where you can set a location and it will show you what the sky looked like on that date at that time in that location for any time in history and you could easily see applications like that in virtual reality where you could take somebody back to what it looked like in the city they were born at the moment that they were born and what the sky looked like outside and point to them and say, “Over here the Moon was rising over the eastern horizon or for you the Moon was setting over the western horizon just a few minutes before you were born because your Moon is just below the Descendant and Sagittarius in the 7th whole sign house,” and talking about the symbolic and connecting more with the actual 3D astronomical things that the chart represents in 2D that we’re used to talking about in a two dimensional context but could be presented much more vividly and give you a much more visceral reaction in a fully immersive 3D context.
KB: Yeah, it could start to help train us to see the patterns within the virtual context so that when we’re out in the world, we can start to have the direct and body experience of that. The work of Gemini Brett, I know he’s been doing a lot of ways in which that he is trying to do that visual sky astrology and bring back that embodied experience of actually taking in the night sky. I would love to see over the next 50- or 100-years movements around the world to have light pollution ordinances basically so that when you go outside, you can actually see the night sky. There’s a documentary called The City Dark that documents the erosion of our night sky. I think they were saying like over two thirds of the world population has the night sky occluded in some way because of light pollution. That’s quite a significant amount of our population.
And so are there ways to not only culturally have more access to that night sky, but also think about how the immersive technologies could help us be more deeply connected to what is emerging in the sky so that you could go out and actually have a direct transmission being able to look at the stars, which is something that will be great. I mean, it’s something you can’t necessarily fully replicate within a simulation. That’s something where you’d really need to be in direct dialogue because your consciousness is some way being projected out into, you’re meeting with these light rays from billions of years away and there’s something magical about being able to actually connect to the night sky in that way.
That’s I think a big part of where that could go in terms of augmented reality is training us to be able to know what to look for. And then when we’re out there, we know how to recognize those deeper patterns and to actually take it in and have those direct transmissions.
CB: In some way, that’s been a shortcoming of astrologers as ever since the ephemeris was introduced and astrologers started making ephemerides in around the fifth century BCE in Mesopotamia, that was when astrology really started diverging from astronomy, in my opinion, because the astrologers were able to just look up where the planets were in a set of tables or in a book, and they didn’t necessarily have to look up in the sky in order to see where they were. And on the one hand, that allowed us for a tremendous amount of freedom in order to be able to look, we can look forward or backwards for centuries and know exactly where the planets were at any time in history or the future and gives us a lot more freedom. But on the other hand, that’s also divorced us a little bit from the actual astronomy of what we’re looking at when we look at birth charts and other astrological charts. So maybe this could reconnect with that to some extent.
KB: I think there’s a lot of that tradition that we’ve lost because we are very abstracted and I think that’s a lot of that work of that visual embodied astrology, we’re actually going out and seeing things. Another thing that I’ll just throw out there is there’s a challenge within the immersive industry which is people ask for what experiences they should have like knowing what to recommend to somebody. And so being able to match up and understand the archetypal character of an experience, and then to know what someone’s preferences are, and then to be able to match that experience with what they may like generally, but also what they may like right now in this moment. So understanding the archetypal dimensions of someone’s character, what transits they are going through, what progressions with other timing techniques, and seeing what that unfolding of their life is happening.
There’s a book called Pine and Gilmore that talks about how we’re moving from the information age to the experience age. And then after the experience age is like these transformational experiences. And so, when I think about those transformational experiences, it’s really about how do you get from an experience that is going to be deeply meaningful to somebody. To me to really achieve that, I think the archetypal astrological system, whether or not it works or not, or whatever is happening or what is even going on, that could be one way of testing it of seeing if it’s able to at least give experiences that are meaningful for people, then that’s going to be worthwhile.
CB: Right. So going back, last night you did a demo and we did a test demo and then you also showed me some games, but then one of the things you did is you threw me into a social room, which was… What happened? Can you set the stage for how that went?
KB: I threw you into VR chat. There was an evening party and there’s some people that I knew and I just basically took the headset off and threw you into the fire of VR chat. There’s a lot of people within the VR community that have no idea or have any interest within astrology. And so, there’s also just generally within the culture and society pretty strong sociological taboo against astrology. I haven’t necessarily on my own behalf given the argument for that I’m into it or why I’m into it. And so, I’m here with you and we’re going to record this podcast about astrology and the conversation immediately came up as if you were thrown into a social situation really getting grilled about the nature of astrology and what it is and why it works.
CB: Right. Well, first off it was just the experience experientially of you’re standing at home and then suddenly you put the headset on me and then I’m standing in a room, I’m in the middle of a party and there’s like three or four people standing three or four feet in front of me. Initially, I am the center of attention and they’re engaging me in a conversation like face to face. On the one hand already, it’s funny in terms of the immediate activation of social phobias or anything like that in terms of having that actual experience as if you were standing in the middle of the party like talking to somebody and some of the dynamics that immediately come up with that just in and of itself, which is funny, and how that experience can be. But then also, of course, and then they start asking why you’re here. And I said, “We’re doing an astrology podcast.” And they’re like, “Well, how can the planets influence life on Earth?” And then I start trying to explain something and you’re talking in my ear and the connection is breaking up also because the Wi-Fi wasn’t very good, so it did not go very well.
But part of the point was it was interesting for me the way that it already transported me to that location and some of my senses were going off just in terms of as if I had been sitting at a party. I could see then much more viscerally why virtual reality adds an element that you don’t expect and you’re not prepared to experience because you don’t expect it until you actually put on a headset, and then all of a sudden, different senses that you didn’t think could be activated are suddenly being activated because of the immersiveness of the experience.
KB: Well, first of all, thanks for being a good sport about that. I immediately found myself wanting to jump in. The way you would describe the philosophy of astrology is different than how I think of it and would describe it and so I found myself wanting to jump in. But I had no idea what the conversation was and that it was going to take that turn so quickly. But I think the larger point was that I really wanted to give you an experience of what it’s like to be in a social VR context because I do think that the social VR, having that sense of being in the same room and talking to someone is probably some of the most compelling aspects of what VR is.
CB: I think if I had been thrown into a group of astrologers and I was able to talk to them or have a shared experience at the top of something in common, commonality to begin instead of the opposite that I would have been different, but I can see the appeal then of… Again, going back to the consultation if you’re like sitting with somebody or even in 2007 doing a consultation in Second Life, I have that one screenshot of me doing a consultation from 2007 in Second Life with my avatar and the avatar of my client and it does bring a different more embodied experience to it, which for some people might be appealing to them in terms of feeling more present in the dialogue with another human being.
KB: I think that’s where the thing about when we go to NORWAC, it’s such an amazing experience that the Melburnians have created over the years so Laura now and with Maggie originally, but it’s such an intimate experience that shares a context where people feel like they can really be themselves in terms of not having to hide. They can just be their full expressed selves and being able to really just geek out with other professional astrologers about a whole wide range of topics. It’s one of the most interesting communities I’ve ever been a part of in trying to cover as well. But imagine being able to have that, like any moment, you can jump start to dive in and have those shared experiences and shared experiences create a shared context for people. And that’s a lot about what you’re able to do in these virtual worlds is go have adventures, and then from those adventures, you’re able to then connect to people.
There’s different makers and creators and a million probably, I don’t know how many different Discord communities that are out there maybe up towards hundreds of millions of different communities that are using Discord to be able to connect in different ways. I think a natural progression is to go into more of a spatial virtual reality that you’re able to have a shared purpose, a shared intention. A lot of times in Discord you have a shared interest at the minimum. And then from that be able to have these gatherings that have a shared context. This instance, I just threw you into a situation that you have no context, you don’t know who anybody is.
When I went to VR chat, I saw who my friends were, I logged in. I saw one that was part of the Prefabs community. I jumped into this place where I have quite a number of people that know me and I basically wanted to just introduce you and have you have a conversation with somebody that I’m familiar with. And so, because of that, you weren’t the one that was controlled into the establishment of that context, you didn’t decide where to go and you didn’t have all these prior relationships.
So in some ways, throwing you into the deep end was to show you the potential of the VR without the deeper contextual. I go back to Priya Parker and the art of the invitation, which is there’s an invitation of some sort that has establishes that context for what the purpose is for gathering. And then once you have that, then you start to gather, and the strength of meeting in virtual environments is that you have that cocktail environment place that is more emergent. There’s no structure that’s dictating for who’s talking to who and what structure emerges out of that. Given that, I feel like astrologically, it brings up lots of different questions which is, what is the astrological location of the virtual space?
You had people literally from around the world that were there. You’re in Colorado, they’re in California and in Europe, literally around the world, people are talking into these virtual spaces and so is there a latitude and longitude for where that is? Most oftentimes, you go with say where the server is hosted or where the company that’s hosting is at, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily going to be right. Or it’s almost like, do you take a Davidson approach where you take a complex of everybody’s there and figure out a location. Or are we going to start to move into more heliocentric models that are absent from a geocentric context? Because there is going to be such a wide variance of different experiences. Or how do you combine those variants of different perspectives from around the world from a geocentric perspective? Does it create a unique lat long that’s dynamic and shifting based upon who’s there? It’s like these open questions that no one’s really been talking about or figured out yet within the astrological context.
CB: With astrology and its divination in general, one of the core principles has always been and it’s always really looked at relative to the position of the observer and the one having the experience when it comes to tarot or I Ching or even astrology in horary astrology or what have you. I remember back in Second Life, your avatar had a creation date, it had a birth date essentially and that was the day and time and potentially the place in which you created it at that time and that becomes the birth chart for your account. I know that’s not going to be true in all metaverses. But I’m sure that there’s some versions where that would probably be where I would go with that is relative to the creation date of your avatar or of your account as being a new birth chart for the start of that experience in that virtual world.
KB: I don’t think there’s going to be a clear answer on that for a long time, which I think speaks to the underlying character of astrology that I found which is that there’s a pluralistic approach, meaning that there’s many different approaches and sometimes those approaches contradict with each other. You can’t use both of them at the same time. You have to pick a horse in some ways.
But in some ways, astrology itself is a form of paraconsistent logic, which is dealing with certain levels of contradiction but somehow, you’re able to prevent those contradictions from exploding. Like you pick one house system as an example or you pick the tropical zodiac over the sidereal zodiac. There’s lots of different ways in which that depending on what assumption you make within your practice would lead to potentially completely opposite conclusions.
So then the question is, to what degree are you making those choices, and how are those decisions being made? A lot of times when I see those decisions, it seems to be a series of assumptions that feel very axiomatic. It’s like a rule that was made up at some point but doesn’t always necessarily tie back to a thing that can be falsified in any way. But it seems to work over time and so it seems to be almost like a folk epistemology of a knowledge that’s transmitted across many different generations of observation, but there’s often deviations from that. And that I think is part of the way I think a lot of folks that are coming from more of a Boolean logic mindset where they want to have a clear yes or no answer, where there is a non-Boolean approach of these archetypal potentials that are in this realm of paraconsistent logic, meaning that there’s lots of different possibilities and there’s not a clear answer.
So because of that, whenever these questions come up, I feel like embracing the pluralistic approach, meaning that there’s going to be a wide variety of different approaches and there may be validity based upon what questions are asking, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. But it seems to be an area that is ripe for exploration for people to try to have a strong either philosophical orientation for what that answer might be or more empirical with observation-based experiences over time, so maybe you start to see which ways that you start to look at some of these different questions.
CB: Right. There’s going to be a lot of interesting things like that. All right. So consultations, conferences, we’ve talked about local astrology groups, classes like astrologers teaching classes with groups of students or even private tutoring or mentoring. I’m sure that’s going to be a thing if it’s not already.
KB: Yeah, you can go through the houses and so you go identity, you can go through economic value exchange within FTS.
CB: Wait, let’s do that. So 1st house in connection with VR, we’ve talked about self-image and different ways in which people can either in some instances are going to want to recreate their image or their self-image as exactly as possible from the real world. And in other instances, you’re going to create something totally different or every shade in between.
KB: Yeah, we talked about that avatar representation, but also sensory addition, sensory replacement, so actually embodying an octopus and being able to actually get haptic feedback, what that means.
CB: And the haptic, we need to define that. There’s actually like gloves and the body suits that you can wear. Even at this point, it’s not even in the future, but there’s things like that that will give you senses of touch and feel.
KB: Yeah, even haptic vests and haptics things that aren’t wearing on your hands. There’s been experiments from like Jeremy Bailenson where you’re wearing a haptic vest and you have a third arm and you’re able to get sensory feedback into your body and then it makes you feel you actually have an additional appendage. So based upon the visual feedback of what you’re saying and your experience, you’re able to embody a whole wide range of different avatar representations. So our sense of embodiment is going to get really weird when it comes to what is called homuncular flexibility by Jaron Lanier and Jeremy Bailenson and one of the other, I forgot the other lead researcher on that, but talking about how there’s ways in which that we’re expanding our sense of ourselves with these representations. But identity in general is going to be a huge part of already existing avatar cultures and virtual worlds and so that’s going to be a huge part with a lot of the astrological exhibitions.
CB: Haptic feedback immediately makes me think of things I’m sure at some point, we’re feeling hot or feeling cold and if you’re learning astrology or teaching astrology, the difference between Saturn as a cold planet archetypally versus Mars as a hot planet, and I can imagine if you were learning that Inworld in virtual reality and then had a let’s say a globe that represents Saturn or a glyph of Saturn and you feel it on your hand and it feels cold, you would remember that much more vividly. Or if you had a glyph of Mars or Mars the actual circular planet on your hand and you felt hot like having the physical sensation as well as the visual and mental sensation or auditory sensation of that wall learning from a teacher or what have you.
KB: There have been technologies that do just that. Scarecrow from Sundance 2020 was doing this glove that was able to do both hot and cold. But those again are in enterprise scale. It’s going to be a long time before the consumer market has access to those things. But yeah, that’s exactly right in terms of being able to translate these different things into both immersive experiences, but you think about herbs and herbalism and the different tastes of those and if you’re able to give the plant or correlations of those and be able to taste those as well.
CB: Well, like sweet for Venus, or bitter for like Saturn?
KB: I’m personally not a herbalist myself, but I know you could probably pull up Culpeper and some of his different associations and the continued evolution of trying to make these astrological correspondences to herbalism. But there’s a sensory experience that could be connected to the herbal traditions with trying to create visualizations within the virtual reality that helps you correlate. It’s a multimodal fusion of these different things, so how can you add different sensory experiences that come from that direct embodied experiences of that 1st house type of your actual physical body and how it’s relating to VR.
CB: I’m sure at some point, smell is a sense as well and being able to smell roses through Venus for example as a teaching thing.
KB: The tricky thing with smell is that it’s easy to put things into the room, but it’s hard to take them out. So there’s diffusers that do that. But editing smells difficult, so some of the things like cosmos within us as you use like smell sticks where they have a docent who’s literally coming up and putting something up to your nose and then taking it away. Because editing smells difficult to put it in and then take it away because once it’s there, it’s in the room and therefore for the rest of the time.
CB: Right. Another thing, the 1st house thing when you’re talking about the body, I was thinking about as a teaching thing, but different body parts and the association with the signs of the zodiac or how different signs are associated with different signs and somehow feeling that somehow or feeling if you are learning about the signs of the zodiac and the different body parts and you get to a certain sign of like Gemini in the hands and then you feel just a little feedback some sensation on your hands and how that could, even though you’re learning at a distance or something like that, give you a much more visceral sensation that you’ll remember much more readily than just reading in the book.
KB: Yeah, it makes me think of Andrea Gehrz or Judith Hill who have both done different ways of translating the astrological man into more say medical context and so we are skipping into the 6th house. But I’m sure there’s going to be lots of ways of drawing all sorts of different correspondences of the signs and the planets into where they appear within our body.
CB: And then one thing that will sometimes also eventually come up is sometimes potentially if a person’s like closely enough identified with their avatar and their avatar Inworld and their representation within that, in some instances, having a major 1st house transit or transit to the ruler of your 1st house could be like going through a change or transformation and how you decide to present yourself through your avatar. There’s going to be instances like that where the transits are actually experienced through the person who’s spending enough time of their life in virtual reality that some of the transits are actually describing things that they’re experiencing within the virtual world.
KB: Yeah, no doubt. And there could be an archive of different ways of you’re going through different phases that then there’s recurrent cycles that maybe you returned to different avatars or different phases of your life, so lots of different ways of moving through different phases and just think about the Moon even if you were to do that over the course of a month of changing your representation based upon where the Moon was. So yeah, lots of different things. I think the avatar, there’s no lack of things we can dive in into the avatar.
CB: Sure. So 2nd house and Inworld like currencies. One of the things of course that’s changed is now digital currencies in the past 10 years bitcoin have suddenly become very valuable in the real world, but they’re also something that’s more perhaps easily transmitted between the real world and metaverses or digital worlds.
KB: We’re moving into a time where moving from something that’s more goods and services and moving into the experiential economy means that people want to have experiences that are deeply meaningful that unfold over time that is more in the realm of immersive theater or even like Starbucks, a lot of these different big companies have started to think about rather than just selling you a cup of coffee, they’re providing you an entire experience from the time you walk into the door until you leave. And so that type of experience-
CB: What do Starbucks call that again? Second place or? They have a word for it.
KB: I forget what they call it. But I know that’s the basis of a lot of what has come out of say the experiential marketing ways of phrasing that. So the idea is to look at all those different dimensions of the mental and social presence, active presence, and body presence and emotional presence. There’s work that comes from that experiential remarketing that actually uses those very similar phrases that I had from one of the interviews that I did earlier in my podcast.
But essentially, moving into value exchange, the 2nd house a lot about money and value exchange, what’s meaningful. I feel like there is going to be an element of non-fungible tokens and astrological talismans. Here’s the big question as to whether or not, if you buy a talisman that is made by a magical practitioner, somehow you have your own experience of whether or not you’re able to contain the energy of whatever the electional time was when that was created. Is that same type of talismanic magic from a Hermetic tradition going to be transmitted through a digital object through an NFT, a non-fungible token? That’s yet to be seen. Who knows what the mechanism is? There’s probably a big part of the intention of the crater, but to what degree is it embedded into the physicality, the materiality of the of the existing practice? Is that same type of infusion going to be possible within the creation of a virtual talisman?
That’s when I think about the 2nd house, I think about those kinds of talismanic creations of these digital objects and is that going to be a thing that starts to happen or are people going to own these objects, but it’s going to be able to give them some direct experience that is above and beyond? It’s purely in a digital mediated realm, but do they have a direct change in their own embodied experiences within these virtually mediated environments? That’s yet to be seen.
CB: Or another 2nd house thing in addition to just astrologers doing consultations and making money, seeing clients or teaching classes Inworld, there’s also people that create not just services but also goods. Because Inworld you can create things and there are digital creators that will craft things or spend time learning 3D design and how to create objects that you can buy Inworld that have value. I was talking to an astrologer the other day that uses Second Life still and designs things like astrolabes and other astrological paraphernalia that people can purchase once they’ve bought it, and it’s something that they make a little bit of money from on the side.
KB: Yeah, I think there’s certainly going to be whole markets, but we’re still at the very beginning and it’ll be exciting to see how things continue to develop.
CB: I’m sure like we were talking about earlier astrological software within that that runs and can do certain things like we were talking about earlier, displaying the sky at the moment that you’re born or something like that.
KB: I think that’s probably getting into other services that are maybe in the consultation or 7th house consultation, so maybe it’s worth moving to the 3rd house, which maybe you can describe from your perspective the different things you see from 3rd house.
CB: I mean, communication, writing books, I think about ways of publishing and if people will have… There were libraries for example, I remember there was one place that it was built like a castle. I think it was based on the Harry Potter castle, but you’d go in and they had an occult section where there was astrology books that you could check out or read within Second Life, and I’m sure there’ll be libraries or other things like that people publishing astrology books within certain metaverses or within Inworld.
KB: I think that is 9th house type of things of a repository of knowledge of that, but the communication would be both early education so I think typically you would think about that from K-12 type of education. So I don’t know from an astrological context what that would mean. But probably the 9th house higher education is what we see a lot of training and stuff, but also repositories of books and information I would think of as an 9th house thing. But also, telepresence is a big thing as well in terms of being able to have a virtual mediation of you being able to communicate with people and the more daily conversations with folks that you’re able to have like we’re talking about in the context of consultations, but also being in contact with either your friends or your community, and your local travel so moving around and having ways in which that you’re able to maybe overlay the cosmic cycles based upon as you’re out and about commuting around town. That serves as a very 3rd house activity, that short distance travel. There are ways in which that you’re overlaying the larger cosmos that allows you to have a deeper context as to the different omens that may be arising from different things that are happening. Is there a correspondence between what’s happening in the as above and then so below is there alignments for things that you should be paying attention to?
CB: Or more mundanely, in Second Life, people would buy plots of land and sometimes put a business or house on it and then you would have actually like neighbors and sometimes you’d have people that own the plot of land next to you in the 3rd house is the place of neighbors. But in terms of communication, a lot of my Uranus transit when Uranus was going through Aries was me starting The Astrology Podcast in 2012 and then during portions of it just the podcast really taking off. So people doing podcasts or whatever the virtual reality equivalent of podcast I could see as a 3rd house thing in terms of communicating or broadcasting your message to large groups of people within the context of that world.
KB: I think certainly when we talk about the telepresence and creating group experiences, you slip into maybe 11th house type of things, but also depending on the context, I feel like sometimes the 3rd house abstract communication there can be more specific context, whether it’s a 9th house learning activity or if with your friends or if with your family, or if with your partner would be 7th house, your family 4th house. I think there’s some principles that are happening there in the 3rd house, but they also can slip into some of these other contexts as well.
CB: Right. So let’s see 4th house, your home, your living situation, your parents or family, but also your private life as opposite to the 10th house which is your public life.
KB: When I think about the virtual homes when you spawn into a virtual reality, you often have a virtual home that you can choose what your virtual home is. You can also customize it so that you can invite people over like the Ready Player One where you’re hanging out in someone’s basement playing video games or whatnot, and that’s starting to happen already.
CB: When people will spend time decorating and buying things that they want in order to design the look and the feel of what they want their whatever home bases to look like.
KB: Yeah, a virtual representation of whatever makes you feel comfortable and feel like as you are inviting people over, the world around you becomes an expression of your own identity. So there’s actually a 1st house element of being able to create the 4th house home that you have. There’s selling and buying of the land as well. I think of architecture as a process of the world building processes that happen of not only creating world of your spaces, but also entire worlds.
But also, history is a big part of looking into the past and looking at the lineages and so how can you use the volumetric capture technologies to be able to capture yourself and to be able to have potentially artificial intelligence representations of your ancestors so that you could have future generations being able to see the lineages of their ancestors within the virtual environment. So there’s some 4th house things about looking into the past as well and memories.
CB: All right. So fifth house is the place of children creativity, sex. In terms of creative expression, I mean people create works of art and different things like that, and it can be a creative outlet for a number of people.
KB: Yeah, this is the big entertainment. Entertainment and games and stories are probably the biggest sector of virtual reality. That is where all the growth is happening so there’s a lot of things that are there. Sex, there’s certainly a lot of… People tend to think that pornography is the technological driver of all new technologies. And that was probably true when it came to the web and the era up to a certain point, but a certain point we switched into the technological driver being games so we haven’t seen pornography be the driver of virtual reality technologies. It’s certainly there and they have like 360 videos and whatnot, but in terms of the I guess astrological lens…
Well, children, there’s different aspects of to what degree or what age is appropriate for children to begin. At this point with COPPA compliance, most of the of virtual reality hardware means that you have to be at least 13. Although there are of virtual reality experiences like Rec Room that have COPPA compliance that allow kids that are less than 12. So there’s a dimensions of kids and as they are in these virtual environments to what degree is it appropriate for them to be in these environments and to what degree are you allowing your own child to be having these immersive experiences. Parents are already trying to limit the screen time for their kids and so what’s it mean to be fully immersed when their sensory perceptual systems haven’t fully developed yet, and with different aspects there’s concerns that 13 may be the age that is recommended.
But as we look at the more aspects of creativity, I can imagine all sorts of different virtual worlds that are able to sustain a type of cultivation of an artistic culture that is able to reflect the values of communities that may not be big enough to be able to establish cultural movements on their own right within the context of a specific geographic location. In other words, artists coming together from around the world to be able to start creating hermetically inspired virtual worlds that are able to create a deeper culture that is cultural artifacts that has been able to both reflect the values of a community but also tell the stories of a community that up to this point have not been told.
CB: I’ve seen a lot of cool artists do creative expressions or depictions of birth charts and things like that and there’s some artists who can buy a birth chart, and I could see some people doing really interesting innovative artistic projects related to astrology in a virtual setting.
KB: Yeah, what I want to see is the immersive interactive. What’s the ways that I can participate in an experience that is able to allow me to participate in the archetypal complex that is able to imagine what could happen when a big group of people come together and make something together that could not exist in isolation. I agree there’s certainly existing platforms that people are creating astrological art, but the new types of art that are going to be made possible are stuff that we can’t even fully imagine yet because being able to have people… It’s almost if you think of ritualistic practices that we see from indigenous cultures or different practices with psychedelic therapies that try to create a larger context that allows this deeper cultural ritual to emerge. When I think about a creative process like that, which maybe gets into more 9th house dimensions that are more of the sacred, spiritual, transcendent expression, but I feel like there’s going to be a part of that through the creative artistic practice as well.
CB: Or Astro-Drama, that’s something that people did at one point or sometimes do at astrology conferences of like everybody gets in a circle and then different people recreate different parts of a person’s birth chart like you have to the 12 signs and then each people will stand in different places and they’ll try to act out what that planet is representing in the person’s life. I’ve heard people talk about this as being an intense experience. I could see versions of that in VR that could be pretty intense as well.
KB: Have you had a chance to try that yet?
CB: I’ve never done that. I’ve never looked into that, but I know some friends that have.
KB: I’ve done it at least once in Portland, and what’s interesting is that you ask somebody from the group to have their chart represented oftentimes and so then you split up who’s going to play what character which are the planets and then based upon where the planet is and what house and what sign it is, you get to dress up that character, so you embody that character. But then based upon the aspects, you can only talk to other characters if there’s a Ptolemaic aspect between you two. So then-
CB: So somebody’s Mars and somebody’s Saturn and they’re either interacting through a square or a trine or what have you.
KB: Right, they can fight with each other. But if there’s different aspects of a version, then different characters can’t interact with each other. And so, what’s interesting is that you play out just you tune into this morphogenetic field of someone’s chart in a mysterious field of what that chart and what those dynamics mean from trying to tap into those potentials and by doing a psychodrama exploration, whomever is watching it is able to potentially get deep insight into the nature of themselves by watching other people play out like a psychodrama of people in these different avatar representations.
This is a type of experience that’s ready made for VR. This is different types of social dynamics of like werewolf among us been translated into VR where you’re trying to find out who the liar is. And so, there’s all these social dynamics where people are chatting with each other. But this is more of a theatrical realm and then mashed up with the depth psychological approach of trying to dig deep into someone’s psyche and give them a narrative experience that allows them to understand more about themselves. I think the Astro-Drama is actually quite interesting and profound.
CB: All right, so that’s fifth house. Sixth house, health also like work, and service.
KB: I mostly associate it with medical XR because it is illness, but it does feel like in the context of getting treated. And so, we can think about in the context of astrology, medical astrology, which is in a weird limbo state where most medical astrologers are doing a performance of historical information rather than providing medical information. So there’s a nuanced line there in terms of depending on where you’re at whether or not it’s even legal to give medical advice in the context of, these traditions. And so, in there’s going to be state laws and federal laws with that. But most of the people that I’ve heard from who do medical astrology casts it as if they’re giving a historical recreation of something, but isn’t necessarily medical advice.
But given that, I do think that there’s going to be all sorts of different interesting traditions that you could start to do this really tailored medicine where you could understand what the astrological insight may be, but maybe in combination with other aspects and getting more biometric and physiological data. A big part of what XR has been in medical information is to be able to do neuro rehabilitation. So being able to track what people’s movements are and to be able to give biofeedback that is going to be very finely tuned to that person.
There may be a boon when it comes to having additional information but again, that’s medical information, so to what degree is that information being transferred and how is that being handled when it comes to HIPAA information and whatnot? So there’s a lot of like, and most of this is in the consumer scale, but when you talk into medical XR, then you start to get into realms in which to what degree is this going to be regulated by the existing medical laws within the United States.
But I think there is actually a lot of potential for the different types of ways to visualize the medical astrological perspective in ways that make it more accessible for people. Maybe like how people go to Dr. Google to be able to search for what may be happening to them, what if you’re able to have a self-contained VR experience that allows you to make these correspondences between what may be happening from the astrological transits and how that may be playing out to specific areas of your body and maybe there’ll be correspondences for people where they start to understand these deep chronic patterns that otherwise don’t have a lot of explanation.
CB: Right. I’m trying to think of many of the ancient medical traditions in both the West as well as Ayuverda from India have different temperament models and the whole idea is that you have to balance your temperaments because it’s through having an excess of a certain temperament or a certain quality like hot or cold that illness arises according to most of those theories so that the idea is to attempt to maintain balance somehow by creating the opposite when there is an imbalance in order to put things back into a state of parody. So I was just wondering if there’s ways that somebody might be able to use VR in order to balance certain things out if they have like a temperamental thing in terms of an excess of hot or an excess of cold.
KB: I know the Chinese medicine uses a lot of the Jungian end and this similar type of principles, Ayuverda is another example. So I imagine there’s going to be over time a lot of non-Western traditions of medical practices, indigenous practices or Chinese philosophy or Indian practices, slowly using the medium of VR to be able to start to explore a whole wide range of different approaches that are based upon different metaphysical and philosophical grounding than the Western substance metaphysics and reductive materialism. So I do think that there’s going to be these alternatives that are made available. However, the caveat is be cautious and skeptical and do due diligence with all this stuff. Obviously, I think this is probably the one area where there’s a lot of potential for innovation, but also a lot of potential for people with maybe not the best intentions to go out and to…
That’s why there’s so much regulation around medical devices because it could be life or death situations sometimes and so there’s a risk of deviating too far from some of these different esoteric traditions that may not be in the best interest of someone’s health. So trying to take a harm reduction approach and also know what the condition that you have and know that if you are needing immediate help to go see a doctor. But if there’s chronic issues that you don’t quite understand that’s probably the types of things that are going to be more in the realm of turning to these alternative methods with these immersive technologies.
CB: All right, so let’s move on next to the seventh house, which is traditionally the place of relationships, partnership, and other people in general.
KB: Yeah, other people, including enemies. I think harassment and trolling within VR has been a big thing. The 7th house is always interesting because it’s like both your most intimate romantic and business partners, but also people that are trying to destroy you in some fashion.
CB: So it was also like a 12th house thing?
KB: Yeah, 12th house. I think that there’s certain elements of harassment that are there just as a general thing within the broader context, but I think the actually the romantic partnerships or even just if you think about in terms of you being in relationship to other people and the concept of synastry. I personally find it really difficult to hold in my mind all the different elements of synastry and I feel like with the immersive aspects that maybe you’re able to fully understand the synastry that you have people moment to moment as you… Most astrologers know their own chart, but it’s sometimes difficult to know how to hold someone else’s chart in relationship to you, especially if you have multiple people that you’re interacting. So imagine a time when you’re able to maybe take the principles of synastry, but also have it played so that it’s more in your awareness that you could be more deliberate when it comes to how you interact with people around you.
CB: Yeah, and that makes sense or have a more visceral experience of your partner’s chart as well as how that relates to yours in some way. There’s some visceral experience.
KB: Yeah, there’s lots of different approaches where there are different ways of combining and compositing or just looking at how to look at like the Davidson approach that creates a hypothetical place and location that then creates another chart so lots of different approaches for synastry generally. But in the 7th house, I also see as consulting and therapy. When you see a therapist that feels like very much a 7th house type of event that you’re getting a lot of information about yourself in the context of how you relate to other people. So I feel like the consultations, astrological consultations that we talked about earlier probably fits into some of the 7th house dimensions as well.
CB: And there’s also going to be people of course that meet other potential partners or love interests online and even carry out significant parts of relationships through that, and interesting things in relation to that in terms of like meeting somebody in that world and having a 7th house transit at that time that indicates that you would meet somebody significant to you romantically on that day or starting a longer term relationship or having a difficult transit and having a breakup or the loss of a relationship in that context, which even if it’s not something where you’ve ever met in person or were physically together, the loss of that relationship could still be felt on a very visceral level and actually show up in your chart at that time through transits.
KB: It brings up the idea of not only just the 7th house, but all the houses, is there going to be a way of symbolically representing the condition of each of your houses based upon the different ways of evaluating the strength of the house, but also the planets that are there. So to look at not only the condition of the planets I guess, more of the condition of the planets rather than the houses, but also in the context of the houses when you have those transits are there ways to give people an embodied experience so they understand when there may be activity when it comes into their 7th house or their 10th house or the 1st house or the 4th house and to be able to do what is usually a pretty abstract visualization and really grounded into some spatial almost holomorphic representation of all these different domains of someone’s life. And are you able to really do a spatial symbolic translation of whatever’s happening in their chart to be able to play out and maybe a little mini narrative that happens over a day or a month or a year? Just like you posted the forecast for the next year, are there ways that people can go into these immersive experiences that have all these contextual domains that allows them to tune in to the dynamics of whatever may be emerging? So that they may just pay attention to what may be happening within the context next up that of what’s represented symbolically within their lives, within that contextual domain in their IRL life.
CB: Right. All right. So let’s move on to the 8th house, which is traditionally things like other people’s money and possessions, but also issues surrounding death and mortality. I know you had done some work early on in VR with helping people process grief and using virtual reality in order to help process grief.
KB: Yeah, just in terms of… Some of the original interviews I did was with the Smithsonian Institute that was doing these translations of the Día de los Muertos Day of the Dead. The Latin Smithsonian within the United States doesn’t have a physical location so they were always on the bleeding edge of experimenting with this virtual technology, so putting in the virtual worlds, these different grief rituals. And yeah, having gone through my own experiences of death and using the virtual reality medium as a way of grieving. There’s another experience called Homestay which is showing right now within the museum of other realities. So I feel like using VR as an artistic medium, but to think about grief and how so much of our society has like funerals as a grief ritual, but sometimes there’s a whole industry that’s around that. So other new emerging practices that we can have that create new rituals for being able to honor people’s lives. That’s part of the things that I’ve started to see.
The 8th house is weird in the sense of its death, but its also collected resources. I think about in contrast to the 2nd house for individual resources, what are the ways that you pay a tax that allows you to create experiences that are sustainable. So that’s where I looked at like decentralized autonomous organizations within the cryptocurrency world where people can come together and start to create these almost platform cooperatives that have these shared missions that are trying to achieve something at the more collective scale that goes above and beyond the individual interests, but as a community and as a collective, just as we pay taxes for the government to be able to do different benefits, which I feel like is the taxes fits into the 8th house dynamic. Those aspects of collective resources, how’s that going to start to play out where there’s collective action that is maybe above and beyond what an individual may do. But are there governance and governments or these individual autonomous organizations that are able to make decisions on behalf of the collective?
CB: Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. All right. So 9th house, we already talked about publishing. Teaching is pretty obvious in terms of astrological applications and things like that that we’ve touched on. Travel, it’s been interesting during COVID of course the past two years. All astrology conferences have just been canceled so people had to use Zoom meetings, but the potential for conferences and people that can’t travel or can’t afford to travel to an international conference or something like that. I remember in the late 2000s like 2008 or something, there were sometimes conferences being held in Second Life and I could see things happening in parallel where you still have in-person conferences, but maybe potentially like online conferences or other things happening at the same time as part of the same event.
One of the things that’s interesting, when all the conferences went online at the beginning of the pandemic, NORWAC went online and we had Zoom, which was actually amazing in terms of being able to still have the lectures. But the big thing that was missing was the social component. And there was like a little bit of that in the chat rooms and stuff like that, or people would chat during the lectures, which was actually interesting and weird that in a normal in-person conference, the audience is largely silent and you’re just receiving it. But suddenly during the conferences, the audience is now talking and having entire conversations during the lecture, which is sometimes interesting and other times can be distracting. So that’s an element but also the social component of being able to interact and have social things online if you can’t otherwise be in person.
KB: Yeah, I’ve attended probably few dozen different virtual conferences and the thing I see time and time again is that in a live conference, there’s a schedule that people are speaking and then there’s organic social interaction that happens because you’re all committed to being there. But in the virtual realm, that doesn’t happen automatically that there’s going to be the same degree of commitment or context for even that type of more open embodied serendipitous types of conversations that are organically emerging. So you almost have to deliberately design for those spaces and to create those invitations in those times or to just cultivate a culture where people are familiar enough with the toolset to be able to have either a Clubhouse conversations or Discord chats and video chats or having some level of people having autonomy to be able to have those different types of one on one conversations that make those gatherings so magical.
So yeah, virtual conferences. When I map out the different domains of possibility, the 9th house actually is probably the biggest in terms of all the different things that fit in there. Astrology fits in there, there’s divinatory practices, there’s dreams, there psychedelic experiences, there’s spiritual experiences, religious experiences. And so, I think specifically though for the astrological tradition, thinking about how we talked about the libraries and the knowledge and the learning, but really tuning into that divinatory practice or this process of, like I mentioned, the James Hillman talking about the anima mundi or the Geoffrey Cornelius Moment of Astrology where you’re holding an intentional field and then somehow letting something emerge from that. How does that… Are there ways to symbolically represent whatever the moment is happening, whether it’s where you are specifically? And imagine that if it’s a virtual realm and everybody’s all over the world, then how do you start to understand what the quality of the moment is based upon an aggregation of all those different ways that individuals are doing that.
So like thinking about ways in which that you’re able to understand the deeper structures of what’s happening in that moment and then be able to take action on that. I feel like that’s… I don’t know. The 9th house to me feels like it’s so boundless in terms of imaginal worlds and world building and future dreaming and building things that were never even possible. I like to think of it as the platonic realm of ideal forms, being able to be represented within a virtual embodiment. There’s almost an endless number of things you could do just with that concept from an astrological context from being able to have a spatial embodied interaction with these deeper mathematical forms.
CB: Okay. 9th house is also ethics. And I know there’s a lot of ethical stuff that came up that we talked about a little bit last night that is raised in the context of VR, are there any ones that are specific that could be relevant to astrologers or astrology?
KB: Well, I mean, the ethics in terms of the philosophical implications of what is nature of reality, what’s real, what’s not real. I think there’s a parts of those different philosophical discussions in terms of, how do you orient your relationship to the virtual and the real in the context of astrology, but in terms of ethics. Just broadly, there’s lots of different ethical questions when it comes to like if you’re talking about probably the normal aspects of ethics within astrology around death, and consultations, and ensuring that you’re not creating a power dynamics where you are like on an… It takes a lot of effort to be initiated into the language of astrology. And when people do get initiated, then there’s almost like you’re speaking on authority as if this is the absolute thing that is true when sometimes there’s often lots of different potentials for what may happen.
And so, thinking about the deeper philosophical questions of what is the balance between fate and free will and how do you orient yourself around that, and to what degree are you trying to tell people their archetypal complex of what the fate is showing you from the astrological tradition, but to what degree could they remediate that or take action around that? So I’d say there’s probably ways that I haven’t thought of in terms of the ways that are specific to VR, but most of stuff I think of offhand at least are the normal types of questions that come up with the ethics of astrology and the different debates that probably happen there in terms of like, do you talk if someone wants to know when they’re going to die or? There’s different practices that are there. Or ethics where someone wants you to do a reading of someone who’s not there. So if you’re not getting consent of the whole number of parties, then to what degree are you able to take into account the fact that you really should have consent from the people of any type of astrological information that you’re giving on behalf of other people. So things like that, that are already a part of the astrological tradition, but then moving into the virtual realm may be probably the biggest is around birth data and personally identifiable information. And if you’re doing that within the virtual context, then are you somehow leaking someone’s personally identifiable information over the context of the virtual mediums? That’s probably the biggest one when it comes to the overlapping of ethics with these immersive technologies.
But as we get into more biometric and physiological data, there’s probably going to be even more ethical dilemmas like reading someone’s brainwaves or trying to really tune into how’s giving someone’s reading if there’s consent to be able to share physiological information that’s coming from their body and being able to react to that in real time?
CB: Yeah, like sketchy people reading somebody or something like that?
KB: Yeah. But to be able to have additional information that is being made available from a way that you could start to control or sorely manipulate people based upon additional information that may be provided by the technology.
CB: Right, because that’s your concern about Facebook, is that one of the reasons you were saying last night that they want to be able to be one of the leaders or the leader in this space is because part of the thing it’s going to to do and one of the reasons they’re subsidizing the headsets is that it will give them a lot of additional information about their users in the same way that Facebook already does have a ton of information about their users and their behavior, and they’ll cater ads and stuff to suit that that you’re going to have an expansion of that in the metaverse.
KB: Yeah, with these immersive technologies the dilemma is that in order to get them to work you have to have all these biometric and physiological things that you’re radiating from your body. But at the same time it’s being used for the context of getting the technology to work, but you could also use that to be able to start to target and profile people. So to start to violate their rights to mental privacy, so understanding what they’re thinking and what their physiological reactions are in response to the contextual information that you have about the virtual world. So these are all neurorights from the NeuroRights Initiative and the Morningstar group and Rafael Yuste and the rest of the group that are looking at trying to look at what are the threats to our fundamental rights. So the neurorights of our rights to our mental privacy, our right to identity, so modeling our different aspects of identity in specific ways. And this is probably a way where the astrological tradition would probably could be used for abuse to be able to start to do psychographic profiling of people over time that is using kind of an astrological frame that could help to contextualize that information at a deeper archetypal level. So the modeling of our identity is something that’s already happening with psychographic profiling. And when we move into these immersive technologies, it’s going to get to the next level. So you have the mental privacy, you have the identity, and then the final thing is the agency and autonomy. So the degree to which you create a digital twin and start to understand someone’s behavior to the point where you start to nudge their behavior in a way that may be driving their behaviors that the people may not even be consciously aware of. So to what degree are using all this immersive technology to understand people perhaps even better than they understand themselves to create a model and then start to subtly change and manipulate their behavior. So those are the big threats, the neurorights of the right to mental privacy, the right to identity and right to agency.
CB: Right, because that was already something that came up with Facebook in the 2016 and 2020 elections was the extent to which political groups were using information from Facebook in order to target specific demographics with ads and things in order to influence their political views.
KB: Yeah. Cambridge Analytica were able to do the psychographic profiling of- They had an app to be able to collect this information, but that was used in the context of to be able to potentially sway an election. And that information gets into the wrong hands and used for the purpose of being able to target very specific amount of people with enough information that they may be kind of a swing voter in a key swing state. It may only take swinging the votes of 10,000 people or whatnot to be able to shift the course of the entire election. So that was part of the concern was that with state actors that are able to get access to this information, that they could start to shift different aspects of culture in a way in a collective scale that goes above and beyond the types of privacy harms that an individual may even experience. Having your vote changed and not being aware of it, that really kind of leads to other countries controlling and driving your political future in a direction that you may not if you knew the full context, you wouldn’t be consenting to. So that’s the kind of threat is that as soon as you start to capture all this very intimate biometric and physiological data, then you have these repositories of models of people’s identity that then if they leak out, which no computer system’s a hundred percent secure, if they do get into the wrong hands, then they could start to be used to manipulate and control us in different ways. So that’s the threat.
CB: Okay, yeah. And I mean, politics and things are very ninth house things in ways in which people’s politics can be influenced by whatever groups they’re a part of in terms of social dynamics, but also in terms of what media they’re taking in and to whatever extent, let’s say, they’re spending a lot of time in the metaverse, whatever sources they’re taking in are going to influence or can change their political views in different ways or can change things about what they believe or what schools they follow. If let’s say you’re an astrologer and there’s some form of astrology that’s really popular in the area you’re in and in that way can sort of influence what you end up doing in the same way that like Myspace or Facebook or YouTube, for example, recently has become so influential in terms of people using it as a platform for podcasts or other channels in order to promote different approaches and the success of that depending on how big they get.
KB: Yeah. This whole problem of fake news and misinformation is a big part of what’s truth, what’s reality, that’s a very ninth house type of topic. And the fortunate thing in some ways is that the existing network effects of social media with text and video and just photos, videos, and texts, that is going to be way worse in some ways of the fast transmission of viral information or misinformation, fake news that when it comes to the immersive environment, it is more based upon one-on-one interactions, which means it’s more real time and more synchronous, which means the network effects are different than say an experience that is kind of a video going viral. So it’s actually slowing down in some ways, but the problems of moderation are actually much more difficult, because it means that you have to have like an AI overlord that’s listening to everything you say or do, which then at that point means that you may be sacrificing other aspects of your privacy in order to create an overarching safe online space. So there’s different trade offs that tend to happen within VR when it comes like that.
CB: Okay. We’ll have to save the AI overlord discussion for maybe tomorrow. 10th house, one’s career, one’s reputation, one’s public life, overall life direction, yeah, how is that relevant for astrology or astrologers?
KB: Yeah, I think also governments and institutions and so big government elements. But yeah, in terms of your public and your reputation, there’s a lot of ways in which people are using existing social media to kind of build up their own brand and to build a reputation in the context of your career and what you’re known for. So I do think that as we move forward in the astrological context, there’s a connection there between the seventh house and the 10th house in terms of part of your careers doing consulting. And so it may be just a matter of the different ways in which that you’re able to cultivate a network or get word of mouth or just to be in places where if you think about how to expand your reach is to go around to different places and maybe give talks or there may be entire public speaking circuits that evolve that are based upon… There’s the existing ecosystems, like your podcast here is a great example or NORWAC or UAC or ISAR, these existing conferences that have platforms for people to kind of talk about ideas, but thinking about how the virtual reality spaces could start to decentralize that where you don’t have to be tied to a specific geographic location, it can kind of be a space that… I like to think of like how meetup.com was able to take a city and say, “Anybody that’s interested in astrology come meetup here.” But you start to kind of transcend the limitations of space where you have more general meetup groups that maybe… Time zones are still probably the biggest issue of finding a time to meet. But you can probably start to have intersections of interests that start to happen that would… If you were to try to find everybody in Denver, everybody in the United States that was interested in say astrology, virtual reality, astrological magic and artificial intelligence and video games or something like that, combinations that as soon as you start to go down the combinations of those, you get into the order of dozens of people maybe in the entire world that are all into that. Well, you can start to cultivate those different types of professional groups by just creating a space that the world and the entire environment is starting to replicate the values of each of those different intersections. So just like Meetup was able to gather people to be able to start to meet about specific topics, I think the intersections of these weird esoteric topics that are maybe just a handful of people in the world, what happens when they start to come together and create their own cultures? So I imagine that’s kind of part of both the 11th house and 10th house types of activities, the generation of culture and providing opportunities for yourself to get known within specific communities.
CB: Yeah, that makes sense. And it makes me think of how I once went to an organization for professional astrologers retreat, and part of what we did is all the speakers in preparation for it, we all had to fly out to this place for a week and do some professional training. And part of that or one of the things that we did is got into a small breakup group of five or six people, and then two astrologers would read each other’s charts and do an actual consultation with another professional astrologer. And part of that was seeing how another astrologer would do a consultation, as well as having the experience of having a consultation from another astrologer and then provide feedback. And the group would discuss the different styles of consultation. I could see something like that, because that was actually a good experience, but it was also a hassle to fly out to this place for that for a week. And I could see people doing that within a virtual reality context.
KB: Yeah. I mean the big 10th house type of social networking site right now is LinkedIn. And I don’t know to what degree the astrological community even uses LinkedIn as a way of professional networking, it’s sort of its own thing. So what would the LinkedIn of the astrological networking in the virtual immersive world look like? It’s kind of up to the community to start to think about if it’s those different types of professional… It kind of gets into the ninth house things of professional training, but also just connecting to other professionals I think is an interesting idea. I haven’t seen much of that. I mean, I’m sure there… Most of the stuff of professionals gathering together happens in AltspaceVR, which also happens to be the same… It’s owned by Microsoft, it’s the most enterprisey, but there’s also Burning Man VR, which is kind of a weird juxtaposition to have enterprise and Burning Man in the same context.
CB: Right, all right. 11th house, we’ve already talked about conferences, I mean, making friends, making friends with other astrologers, the social component of astrology, which is actually pretty important and this just being an additional way that people could build social connections.
KB: Yeah, social VR, I think, is the domain of having things like Rec Room or Altspace or NeosVR. Or within the context of the open metaverse, there’s Mozilla Hubs and lots of other decentralized, crypto-based worlds. But let’s just say once you’re in a world where you have a shared environment, you’re able to hang out with your friends and go do things that only you would want to do with your astro buddies. I think right now there’s not a lot of like immersive experiences that are very specific to the astrological audience. What would it be to go hang out and have an immersive experience that would be like a game to play or just something that would allow you to kind of geek out or… Right now it’s sort of agnostic to the astrological context. You’d gather with your friends and go do something that was not… It would be from your conversations that different types of discourse would happen. And so you’d be playing a first person shooter or just kind of exploring around the metaverse in different ways. But thinking about what would it look like to create an immersive experience that would very specifically tuned to what astrologers would like to do. Mostly when you go to a conference, it’s just sitting around and talking about different stuff. But if you kind of think about the Chatroulette or other ways of introducing yourself to other people within community just set in an existing context, I mean, maybe this is a part of an 11th house thing of, let’s say, you wanted to get together with everybody who was going through a Saturn or a Neptune conjunction to your Ascendant, I have Neptune square my Ascendant right now. What if from people around the world, there were gathering together who happen to all be going through that same aspect and that you have a shared context to be able to start to talk to them. So maybe you’re able to cultivate new friends based upon shared experiences that you have. So yeah, that’s kind of I guess an idea based upon what is the context under which that you’re coming together? And the astrological context actually provides a pretty robust way for people to connect deeply on what’s happening in their lives.
CB: Yeah, that makes sense. And then finally 12th house, I mean, we’ve talked already about enemies, we’ve talked about grief and loss and things like that.
KB: Yeah, for me, the 12th house when I think about the context, I think a lot about accessibility, so for people who may feel exiled from the point where they don’t have their full abilities within these immersive technologies. And also just the process of banning and exiling people when they’ve violated some sort of code of conduct or whatnot. So creating safe online spaces by having different protocols for allowing you to block people or ban people or create safe spaces. But I feel like the accessibility is probably the thing that’s worth mentioning in terms of not everybody has fully abled bodies or even have access to financial resources to have access to the technology. So thinking about how immersive spaces that if you only allow people with PC VR, then you’re eliminating people who only have mobile VR, or maybe they don’t have like a fully immersive VR. So are there 2D portals that you can have access to these different spaces and thinking about both people have visual impairments or impairments in their hearing. So yeah, thinking about just both the accessibility and just to go back to the 11th house for a moment is diversity and inclusion, making sure that you have a diverse set of different ways that you are, including a wide range of different perspectives when you’re creating AI stuff, but also just when you’re creating content that you’re not somehow causing harm to people because they didn’t have a seat at the table when you’re making something. So ensuring that there’s a certain level of diversity and inclusion in the process of these immersive experiences so that that’s also kind of a 11th house type of thing of making sure the community that’s represented has a good cross-section, and then sort of onto that the accessibility aspects of trying to think about as you’re designing or creating or wanting to explore different aspects, then are there ways to make astrology even more accessible to people and have multimodal ways of experiential or if people need to have an embodied experience or if people need to have a story or if people need to be able to have a mental abstraction where they’re kind of able to explore and interrogate it or make choices in some ways in the mental and social presence, or if it’s some experience that they’re taking actions and they’re able to learn about it by acting out within that experience, and so looking at the whole range of different modalities and how to best transmit information. So, yeah, just making sure that it’s the most accessible, not only for ability, but also just for the temperamental preferences for how people consume information.
CB: Yeah. For the podcast, for example, it was originally an audio podcast, now it’s also video. But one of the things I’ve done for greater accessibility is starting doing transcripts for all episodes so that people can read the transcript as well if they can’t listen to the audio or what have you. And I’m sure there’s going to be versions of that in terms of ways in which virtual reality might make some things like conferences more accessible for somebody that otherwise couldn’t attend a conference or something like that. But then on the other hand, some experiences maybe that some people, as you’re saying, won’t be able to access and finding ways to still make that somewhat accessible, even if it’s not in part.
KB: Yeah. And there’s certainly a lot of, I mean, just within the broader VR community and AR community, this is one of the areas that most work is needing to be done. And just to say briefly, there’s other significations of the 12th house that are a little bit more weird like enemies and exile or just really bad experiences. And so also just thinking about how some people may have just experiences where they just have things that may be triggering a seizure as an example or just in general if people are going through a 12th house transit, they may want to kind of just retreat and have more of a kind of solitary spiritual experience. And so yeah, thinking about mental health and ways to have people kind of tune down the level of stimulation that they have. But there’s a lot of the negative aspects of the 12th house that I think are probably worth just brainstorming how you could either commiserate with people or make it better in some ways.
CB: Right. If you have social anxiety and your friend throws a headset on you and thrusts you in the middle of a party, that might be a 12th house experience.
KB: Correct. Sorry about that by the way.
CB: It’s all right. I mean, despite that experience, despite that being my first experience, it was still largely positive and I’m willing to overlook that even though I now understand some of the potential downsides, but I think I might go get a headset, the same headset that you use, which is what again?
KB: It was properly called the Oculus Quest 2, but now being rebranded as the Meta Quest, but most people call it the Oculus Quest still because the boxes still say that. But because Facebook rebranded to Meta, it’s now officially called the Meta Quest 2.
CB: Okay, yeah. Well, I mean, I’m intrigued enough and I was interested enough by the experience last night that I’m interested and I’ve always been interested in new technologies and emerging technologies, and that’s just part of my interest. I don’t know, I have Aquarius rising and Uranus conjunct the Midheaven, and especially the ways in which new technologies astrologers are often at the forefront of new technologies and finding ways to use them for astrology or in order to enhance things that they’re doing with astrology. So I’m curious about some of those applications, and we’ll probably begin exploring it a little bit more sort of based on this experience and based on this conversation.
KB: Yeah. I mean, I had been long interested in kind of tinkering around and making astrological software, but I think I went through this journey where I kind of went into the astrological closet metaphorically, but have still continued to be covering the virtual reality as a potential. And I feel like for me, I’m very excited to start to continue to tinker around with… I feel like there’s enough of the open web stack, the open metaverse to start to build these different types of immersive experiences, just all the stuff that we just we’re talking about here and brainstorming. We’re kind of dreaming into the future that doesn’t quite exist yet, and we’re kind of at the precipice of trying to create these embodied immersive experiences that go above and beyond what you could experience IRL. And I know there’s a lot of skepticism probably within the astrological community about VR, and there is also a lot of skepticism about astrology within the VR community. So I feel like I’ve been sort of in this weird liminal state where I’ve just continued to do my thing, kind of continued to maintain interest in both communities, but I do foresee that there will be some interesting convergences, especially when you start to think about the data visualization of like the spatialization of music and being able to look at those concepts of the celestial spheres and trying to coordinate different ways of having an embodied spatial experience of the harmonies and the frequencies of music within an immersive environment. There’s a lot of ways in which that we’re going to be living into a future where you’re going to have an embodied experience, but it may be able to deeply tune you into these underlying patterns. And I do kind of have that strand of the Pythagorean platonic ways in which that there’s these underlying structures of reality that we’re somehow mysteriously interfacing with. And that in these virtual environments, you can kind of think about it as overlaying those platonic realms of ideal forms on top of our experiences. And from there, are we able to kind of tune in even deeper into these deeper structures of reality?
CB: Brilliant. And one thing that’s funny to me personally also is despite over the past five to six years, you not being as open about being an astrologer and having that interest, you’re actually married to an astrologer at this point who happens to be a friend of mine who I actually first learned Hellenistic astrology with in the same class starting back in 2004, 2005 at Kepler College.
KB: Yeah. Wonder Bright is an amazing astrologer that I originally met in 2014 at ISAR, and then we have a mutual friend Jenn Zahrt. And so I actually, kind of met and stayed with her when I was going to Oculus Connect 2 in Los Angeles in 2015. And then we’ve been together ever since, and we got married in 2018. So I think being married to an astrologer and being able to speak the language of astrology is kind of a magical thing as you’ve been able to… It’s also kind of weird just because when you have the synastry and you kind of transit together, it allows you to kind of tune into the deeper structures of a relationship that almost you feel like you have a little bit of a leg up, but also you still have to do the work, because you’re always constantly evolving with trying to be as aware of whatever’s kind of seeping up from your deep levels of your unconscious to be fully present with what you’re supposed to be doing to be growing as a human being but also being in relationship. And I find that just being in relationship with an astrologer is like someone able to not only mirror you in that way, but also to be able to identify the underlying astrological transits or progressions or solar arcs or whatever favorite techniques you have to be able to start to kind of geek out with the language in a way that allows you to… I don’t know, it feels like it’s a great experience to be able to do that. And Wonder herself is an amazing astrologer who gives me lots of deep insights into not only my own unfolding and she often is noticing things that’s happening, and so we kind of go back and forth in reminding each other of things that we may not be consciously aware of in any given moment. But Wonder actually was with you at Kepler College and would tell me stories about how when you were at the very first school. I mean now you’re well known as a pretty staunch Hellenistic traditional whole sign advocate.
CB: Well, and she actually took the headshot of me, the picture of me that’s on the back cover of my book Hellenistic Astrology.
KB: Yeah, but she shares an anecdote of the first day of class at Kepler College where you were kind of arguing on behalf of Pluto being the ruler of Scorpio in the context of the more traditional… Kind of funny in hindsight to see all that different stuff how things have turned out.
CB: Yeah, I actually went into that class which was 202, an introduction to Hellenistic and Vedic astrology with Wonder, and I was much more of like a militant modern astrologer at that time. And it’s so funny that she’s one of the few astrologers then that remembers me from prior to that point, but also would’ve seen the transmission where I did go in very resistant to studying ancient forms of astrology, because I thought they were old and outdated and unnecessary because we had the outer planets and things had changed. But then very quickly within a few weeks of actually sitting down and studying some of the texts, realizing that there was something valuable there about studying older forms of astrology.
KB: Yeah, by all accounts by you and Wonder, Kepler College was a pretty magical time in history of the transmission of astrology of just having so many of those practitioners coming together for the dream of having a college that could be able to be accredited. But alas, it was thwarted by the state. But also for a variety of other reasons, it didn’t sort of live into the full potential of what Kepler could have been. But at the same time I think it catalyzed quite a lot of stuff. And I remember NORWAC 2009 Kepler was still around, and I just remember doing interviews with people and this vision of trying to create a more rigorous way of studying the astrological tradition.
CB: Yeah. I mean, well, with some of the stuff we’ve talked about with technology and the Uranus-Neptune conjunction in 1992 and 1993, that’s when Kepler College was formed. It was very much partially a product of that time period and that conjunction and some of the best parts of it. But with some of the things we’ve talked about in terms of technology and virtual reality and the different waves, it’s like there was a wave upwards and then there was a receding period of when it went away. But some of the things that were introduced or started during that time period still have ripples and go out and affect things in the future in ways that you can’t anticipate sometimes at the time but in retrospect, you can look back and really understand that that was the starting point of something major.
KB: Yeah. And maybe it’s worth bringing up that one graphic to just kind of close out this year, because we’ve been talking about… We covered a lot of looking to the future of what to forecast and to imagine what might be possible as we move into the future. And we talked about the Saturn-Neptune as likely being a time when the augmented reality glasses are going to be launching sometime between March of 2024 and April of 2027. And then we move into the conjunction between Saturn and Uranus that’s going to be in July 2030. And then in June of 2034, that may be sort of the full manifestation of decentralized economy and value exchange and maybe other aspects of the technological aspects all coming into bear in terms of taking the metaverse to the next level of whatever folds. And then from there, there’s an opposition that happens that is some time from between Saturn opposite Pluto between January of 2035 and August of 2037. We started with the pandemic now and that sort of set a larger context with creating a world in which it’s kind of a threat to go out into the world and it’s driving us to have these virtual technologies. And so as we look at the first quarter square in 2027 to 2030 between Saturn and Pluto, we’ll see how we’re progressing with the pandemic, but it may end up with that opposition coming into full bloom in a way that it’s like the absolute worst of the kind of pandemic realities. And if so, that’s going to be driving into this final phase, which is kind of from some time between 2034 and 2051, there’s like two huge transits that are happening between Uranus square Neptune, which started with the conjunction of in the nineties that brought in the internet. So looking at to what is the next phase of all these worldwide web technologies that are more fully immersed into the metaverse, maybe that’s when by the 2030s to 2040s is when the metaverse is kind of reaching a scale that is more like what we have today with the internet being everywhere. And then finally this opposition between Uranus and Pluto that is happening between September 2041 and September 2051, that’s a 10-year opposition that you go back to the sixties, a lot of this stuff that was born in the sixties, all these liberation movements, the Changing of the Gods, which is going to be coming out soon covers a lot of the more activist liberation movements in a really beautiful way. But then with the first quarter square that happened with the emergence of all these immersive technologies between 2007 and 2020, and then moving into this coming into full bloom of what was in the sixties with the starting of a lot of these technologies, coming into like is that neural injection, The Matrix, brain computer interfaces, artificial intelligence, artificial general intelligence, I mean, there’s all these sort of exponential technologies, including quantum computing, who knows what that’s going to be playing in?
KB: Well, I mean, that’s sort of what Kurzweil says is the singularity. It’s sort of this moment where you have a confluence of so many different things. If you just go back one slide, just go back one. Yeah, you have… So if you look in the visuals for people who are watching, you have from 2034 to 2051, and you see how all these other kind of sub-cycles are coming in there with… There’s a Saturn opposite Neptune and Saturn square Uranus and then Saturn square Pluto.
CB: There’s just a ton of outer planet angular relationships that start stacking up on top of each other in this time frame in the 2040s.
KB: Yeah, somewhere between 2042 to 2045 or 2050, somewhere in there is going to be astrologically kind of a peak moment where I expect based upon what we see of these previous moments when we have these stacked moments, we have everything from the sixties that happened with all the innovation that was happening, rock and roll and these liberation movements, and then in the nineties with the birth of the enterprise VR, but also the worldwide web. And then now with the birth of the virtual and augmented reality from 2007 to 2020, we’re talking about sort of all these things all confluencing together. So if I were to make archetypal prediction, I would expect to be having some degree of all these technologies coming together in a way that maybe lives into some of these sci-fi visions of the metaverse or a dystopic vision. There’s no clear path in which some of these underlying tensions between the more Pluto Neptune aspects of the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, it’s kind of the creation of a plutocracy. Are we able to overcome this underlying plutocracy dynamics that we have in our culture? Is that something that we see big actual movements for? One of the things that happens with Saturn and Neptune in 1989 was the kind of the fall of Berlin Wall. So are we going to see the fall of some sort of empire, some sort of establishment when it comes to the US power that comes to that conjunction between Saturn and Neptune that is coming in 2025. So that is archetypally connected to that 1989 moment when you have the fall of all these different things and the communistic and the Soviet Union whatnot leading into Russia. So I think those are different things that I start to think about where you have these different mile markers that have archetypal potentials. And we won’t know until we actually reach that to see how they actually play out, which gets back to that [unintelligible] quote, which we can name the archetypal potentials, but we won’t know until once we get there, then we’ll have more information as we are looking backwards at how things have been unfolding. So that’s the kind of approach that I’m taking here to kind of peek into the future a little bit.
CB: Yeah. I mean, when I look at this graph and just see this pile up of outer planet stuff in the 2040s, it makes me think about some of those projections about if, because I’ve always had a question of if artificial intelligence let’s say is a possible thing that could be developed in the future or will be developed in the future, if astrologers could try to predict, look forward at certain alignments over the next several decades and say, this is the best bet for when it looks like there’s an epoch defining turning point in terms of humanity’s existence, because it would be that level of significant if that was something that was created at some point. And if you could predict that and just it’s interesting that all those pile ups occur in the 2040 timeframe just because of some of those projections by Kurzweil, who is in like 2040 his like projection for the so-called singularity. And what’s the difference between his singularity versus just AI or generic the concept of AI? Are they not the same?
KB: Well, I mean, there’s sort of the Moore’s Law of exponential growth of technology, and you have a confluence of all these things coming together. So when you have artificial intelligence with virtual and augmented reality, and basically the idea with the singularity is that the AI kind of gets the super intelligence to the point where it is so smart that we don’t even have conceptual frameworks to understand it. And it starts to change so quickly that we have no fundamental ground to stand on. So I’m a little bit of a skeptic of that kind of idea, just because I feel like AI, if served properly is not going to be this super intelligent god that we’re subservient to, but rather that AI’s supposed to be in service to us in right relationship to us. And if it’s not, then something has gone horribly wrong, where we are kind of living into this AI overlord type of dynamic.
CB: Like a terminator-type scenario, Skynet.
KB: Yeah, almost that you trust whatever the AI is saying, and there’s always going to be bias and intention that is embedded into these systems. And so to try to isolate those larger actors from what the intention is that you want, I feel like we need lots of different type of decolonized thought that is trying to put the power back in the hands of people so that they know how to be in relationship to these different algorithms. Algorithmic bias is probably one of the things where this discussion is happening. And there’s a documentary called Coded Bias that starts to get into that. But as we start to project out, there’s ways in which the artificial intelligence is going to start to as much as it can extract different elements of our intelligence into the AI entities. And the goal is for it to be in service to us in some ways. And so the big question I have is, what do those things allow us to do that we couldn’t do without it? And when it starts to be at this scale where it allows companies to be able to manipulate and control us in ways that they’re able to serve their own needs, then you’re kind of strengthening these underlying inequities in society that are just problematic. It takes a lot of energy to be able to train these AI, and as the pandemic has started, we basically have a handful of these tech companies that have enriched themselves disproportionately to the rest of the society. So I think as we look at the future from a Hegelian perspective and a Marxist perspective of looking at dialectical materialism, looking at who the owners are and how much is the kind of cooperatively owned, that’s why the sort of decentralized autonomous organizations within the context of cryptocurrency is trying to potentially start to move into more cooperatively-driven things that go above and beyond what the owners of capital are doing these centralized companies. So the centralization decentralization are going to be huge themes as we move forward, to what degree is the metaverse going to be decentralized and to what degree is it going to be controlled by Disney and Meta and Netflix and Hulu, where it’s basically a Disneyfied experience that is kind of very dry and safe and kind of benefiting them disproportionately. So in the larger context of our society, when we look into the future, we have to take into all these other aspects and in addition to making sure that we have equitable access and diversity and inclusion across a lot of people who have no ability to have access to these experiences. So that’s another aspect that unless we get that right, then we’re going to just amplify the inequities in our world rather than kind of create this more utopic vision. So whether or not we’re moving into dystopia or utopia kind of depends on the underlying intentions of the values of the culture that is helping to drive not only what we’re supporting as consumers, but also the laws that we’re setting to be able to put the good rights on, like say neurorights or privacy, and then the market dynamics and then the underlying technological architecture in the code. All of these things are kind of feeding together into this kind of feedback loop that has been shaping society in a way that goes above and beyond what the printing press did. So just like the printing press was able to kind of capture information and knowledge, this kind of printing press of our era are these computing technologies that have all these different communication media from film and TV and radio and video games and the computers and the internet and worldwide web, the cryptocurrency exchange, and then now with the virtual and augmented reality, they’re all coming together to kind of create this new experience machine that’s able to capture our experiences and then deliver it in a way that we can basically have all sorts of ranges of experiences that were never possible before.
CB: Right, that makes sense and is pretty exciting. I mean, obviously like you said earlier, there’s both extremes of the spectrums of like the utopia visions and there’s the dystopia versions of that. But oftentimes things end up somewhere in between those two extremes.
KB: Yeah. And the issue is that… Monika Bielskyte is a futurist, she’s a futurist researcher that has been creating this Protopia futurist framework that is really… One of the things she says is that the future is not created by the Elon Musks and the Bill Gates and the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world, that the future is actually created by the science fiction creators who are telling the stories that are allowing us to imagine a future that is not quite yet possible yet. So the science fiction ends up being a roadmap to allow us to imagine where we’re going in the future. And so whether it’s William Gibson or the Snow Crash and Stephenson or the Ready Player One, these are giving specific depictions of the future that we’re living into. And it’s very specific in terms of like Ready Player One’s all about gaming. So it’s like the extreme of gamer culture, but do we really want to live into a world where that type of extreme gaming culture is going to shape everything that we have in terms of our interactions with the metaverse, especially if you’re not really into gaming. So I think we have to look at these other storytellers and people who are growing and cultivating these worlds that we want to live into, whether it’s indigenous futurism or afrofuturism. There’s a whole set of different movements of people that are showing these work at film festivals like Sundance and Tribeca and the South by Southwest and [unintelligible] and the Venice Film Festival that are kind of dreaming into worlds that aren’t quite possible yet. So whether it’s indigenous futurism, so imagining seven generations from now outside the constraints of what the existing dynamics of colonial thought is, can we imagine a future of a decolonized world that we can live into? So if we see a virtual representation of that, does that inspire us to be able to start to have the cultural values to make the decisions that we need to be able to live into that in some fashion? So that’s the idea is to take the principles of all these different liberation movements and start to create immersive and embodied worlds that allow people to start to cultivate the cultures that we want to actually have. So with Black Panther and Wakanda is a great example of a type of inspiring world building that created a whole movement of people who wanted to actually live into this Wakanda reality. So I think we’re going to start to see that type of future dreaming that happens within the context of stories, where people are building these immersive experiences where they can actually start to create both the cultures and the values and the cultural artifacts and the rituals and the stories and the heroes that then from there in the virtual space then eventually gets transmitted into the real world. So it’s kind of a model of cultural evolution and transformation that I find is a grand potential of where VR could go in the future.
CB: Yeah. And it seems with the science fiction authors that sometimes though there’s guys that could see the potentials and by writing some of those stories were influencing the future, but in some instances it was for things that they would never actually see or live to experience themselves. But nowadays it seems like it’s the people on the ground, especially the early adopters and in terms of the astrological community are going to be some of the ones that set the paradigm and establish some of the trends and the common things of what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate by being some of the earliest pioneers to explore that new space. So that seems relevant in terms of thinking about the astrological community and where things are going to be taken in terms of virtual reality with that in the near future.
KB: Yeah. I mean, it’s really a time… It’s still really quite early. And I think like Beat Saber, the game you played, was built by three people in the Czech Republic. And it’s gone on to gross over a hundred million dollars, and Meta actually acquired it. So it’s one of the most successful experiences that completely revolutionized the entire industry. And it was literally built by three people. So it’s an opportunity for that type of indie game mentality to be able to start to be at the right moment at the right time and to do the exact right thing, really be tuned into the Kairos moment and to create something that’s going to serve a community that maybe certain orientations that people maybe someone with an astrological orientation is able to create something that no one even thought of creating, but it fundamentally transforms how we start to interact with our computing in the future. So we’re kind of in that moment where there’s still this place where someone can completely revolutionize where this whole thing goes, the influence of those three creators of Beat Saber of how they continued to unfold with the Beat Saber and Supernatural and all these other rhythm games, it’s kind of established, expanded upon that genre, but put it into a whole new level. So yeah, discovering what the affordances are and some of the stuff we even talked about here today, if people start to make some of these different types of experiences, then you could start to then from there know more information at that point to know where to go next. But you don’t know until you start to actually get in there and start to tinker around and have your own whole set of experiences. So there’s a whole library of different experiences that are already out there, which is what I’ve been trying to cover on the Voices of VR podcast to be able to kind of map out the different cartography of different experiences that are even possible. And then the more that people have those embodied experiences, the more that they’ll understand what the language is to be able to speak that and to create what they want to experience within virtual reality.
CB: Yeah, that makes sense. It makes me think about… That’s the case, anytime there’s a new platform, there’s always early adopters and sometimes the early adopters set the standard and influence the whole trajectory of the platform very early on. I just came across the other day one of the earliest YouTube videos, where I remember about 10, 11, 12 years ago, there was hardly any astrology videos on YouTube for the longest time. And I stumbled across one of the earliest astrologers who was on YouTube, and I remember him making these videos way back then, but then at some point in 2010, 2011, 2012, there started to be some astrologers that started to imitate what other people were doing on YouTube with the vlog-type style, and then suddenly having their channels take off and getting 10,000 or 50,000 or 100,000 followers or what have you, and then influencing how other astrologers were using that platform to teach or communicate or build followings or the things like that. I’m sure there’ll be similar things with virtual reality.
KB: Yeah. But sometimes you have the problem of being too early. I was doing video blogging in the video blogging community in 2004, 2005, before YouTube had even launched. So I was doing work that was kind of in The Independent RSS Feeds and [fire ant]. And people were kind of creating their own ways of sharing back and forth these different experiments with video blogging then Ze Frank did all of his experiments, which kind of set that kind of vlogging aesthetic. But then eventually YouTube came along, and so it’s kind of this weird dynamic where you kind of have to pick your horse as to what platform or what thing you’re going to really get behind. And you really don’t know if that’s going to be the thing that takes off or it’s going to be something that hasn’t even been launched yet or invented yet. So I mean, for me, I just kind of trust my own intuition to kind of follow my artistic impulses. And I haven’t kind of picked what my horses, in terms of what type of platform I’m going to build upon, what type of experiences that I want to have in virtual reality. The provocation I like to have is I want to create a memory palace of all space and time. So what would it mean to be able to see these different archetypal dynamics and have an immersive experience that allows you to connect the past into the present and to see like, “Oh, hey, this conjunction that happened between Neptune and Pluto back in the 1892, maybe that’s… It was, I think around eight degrees Gemini, it’s really tightly configured into being square to my or being opposite of my Moon and square to my Sun. So it’s sort of like is there a way in which that me talking about all this stuff right now, is there a way that my own sense of being is kind of deeply connected to this larger pattern and seeing how you as an individual is connected to the past and to connect it to these larger dynamics? So yeah, that’s a thing where understanding your own unfolding with your own astrological transits and your progressions and all these other timing techniques for what your character is developing and what the collective character is and how you’re interfacing with how your role is playing into the collective story that’s unfolding. So I think that’s something that the astrological tradition can uniquely kind of make those connections, which is what from Tarnas and Grof were doing psychedelic therapies, they were seeing that with the psychedelic experience of these transformative experiences that were being collected either in archetypal collective scale or an individual transformation. And yeah, just seeing how that psychedelic influence that was the basis of so much of the innovation from archetypal cosmology and to take that same type of insights with what we are in the precipice of a psychedelic revolution with the multidisciplinary association of psychedelic studies being able to basically take MDMA and this sort of psilocybin for specific cases of PTSD, but basically creating psychedelic therapies with these drugs. We’re kind of moving into a whole psychedelic realm that I feel like the story of psychedelics has been such a key part of not only virtual reality of a lot of the biggest proponents, but also some of the different strands of the astrological tradition, specifically archetypal cosmology in Tarnas and Grof have very much this connection to the psychedelic experience that for them as Grof said, that astrology is kind of the Rosetta Stone of the psyche, that was the only technique that was able to not only predict the timing of different experiences that were transformative but also the character of that story. And there’s no other technique that can really be as specific as that as astrology, which I think has kind of led into this deeper work of both Tarnas and Grof.
CB: Yeah, well maybe in the same way that they found astrology as being archetypally predictive of people’s experience of hallucinogenic states, astrology will also be archetypally predictive of people’s experience of virtual reality in the same way. And I think that might be a nice note to end on actually, just that as a possibility and putting out there as our possibility that we’ll put out to our audience, especially of, let’s say, non astrologers. Tell me more information about where people can find out more information about you, your podcast, and what you have coming up in the future.
KB: Sure. Yeah, so I’m on Twitter @kentbye. I do a lot of tweeting about mostly virtual reality stuff. And then voicesofvr.com is where my podcast is, and you can find it there and other places that you can find podcasts as well. I’m hopefully going to be relaunching at some point the Esoteric Voices podcast. Maybe this conversation here is going to catalyze that. I had published like 275 episodes of that. So maybe I’ll just get the backlog posted and then start to publish some of the unpublished interviews I’ve done over the last decade.
CB: If there’s any astrologers out there that would be interested for some reason in listening to in-person interviews with hundreds of astrologers at astrology conferences over the past 10 years and would like Kent to bring those back at some point and make them accessible, let us know in the comments below on YouTube or on The Astrology Podcast website for this episode.
KB: Yeah, the Patreon to be able to really fund that, I have the Voices of VR Patreon, but I may need to start another. Part of the reason of not knowing where to put my identity after being in the closet astrologically for so many years has kind of created other complications for how to kind of divvy up these different things. But right now I’m on Patreon at Voices of VR, that’s my VR podcast. So hopefully I able to figure out a way where this has a good home, and it’s able to be supported by the community, because there is quite a lot of rich oral history, the evolution of astrology over last decade that’s quite an interesting archive that I happen to have been a part of helping to capture.
CB: Yeah, well, and I’ve always said if you ever need help getting that out through the auspices of The Astrology Podcast or something, let me know. But I hope you do relaunch that at some point in the future. So you’re on Patreon for the Voices of VR podcast. And you also had an AI podcast at one point, right?
KB: Yeah, the Voices of AI. Basically, if had my choice, I would have seven different podcasts. It would be Voices of VR, Voices of AI, Voices of Mathematics, Voices of Philosophy, Esoteric Voices, and the Decentralized Web and what’s coming there. So I guess that’s like six. Each of those I could do like a hundred episodes of all those that I’ve already recorded that are just kind of sitting in my archive.
CB: Yeah. I’m afraid that unlike virtual reality, you may be somewhat constrained by the restraints of space and time, time especially, a Saturn thing.
KB: I have Saturn in detriment in Leo, and I have Jupiter in detriment in Gemini. So I think I tend to do things probably not the most way that people do podcasts. And so it’s sort of like there’s not a lot of existing infrastructure to kind of support it. So I’ve kind of been in a way using things, recording an inordinate amount of information that is quite overwhelming. So I think there may be parts of the spatial experience of virtual reality that may start to solve that, but that’s still to be determined. But my dream is to get all of that stuff out there and to be supported by a community of listeners that is really tuned in. And this is a great opportunity just to kind of like talk about some of my deepest passions of these ideas. And again, like I said, I’m very driven philosophically and some of these deeper foundations of astrology are still questions that kind of have these overlaps with virtual reality in a very interesting way. So I started kind of wanting to really validate or have deeper information about astrological tradition, but I’ve moved into more of these deeper philosophical questions that I feel like are still part of the astrological experience, but also are expanded out into the larger philosophical traditions. So if there’s anything, I’ve been kind of leaning more into like the deeper philosophical inspirations lately. And so with that, I look forward to being able to get into this deeper flow state of taking in all these curiosities and putting out into audiences that are also sharing my own curiosities about all these different range of different topics.
CB: Yeah. All right. Well, this is your Saturn opposition here in the next three days right now. So this might be the turning point and time to start putting some of that stuff out or back out, or making a decision in terms of which way to go in terms of maybe narrowing down that range from, let’s say, not six or seven podcasts, let’s do like two or three podcasts. Even that sounds like a lot to me with just one podcast with my puny one podcast schedule, but that sounds more manageable and maybe making a choice and yeah, I look forward to seeing what you do and where you go with it, both in terms of astrology and in terms of VR.
KB: Yeah. And thanks for inviting me out. It’s been a great pleasure to be able to kind of really do a deep, deep dive of both VR and astrology. And it’s a great opportunity to be able to do that. So I really am grateful for the platform you’ve created here and to be able to just have this type of conversation that I couldn’t have with very many other people in the world. So I appreciate that.
CB: Yeah. Well, thanks for helping as being an instrumental person in terms of the history of The Astrology Podcast and helping me to do what I do is partially, I owe a debt to you. So thank you. I think we have time. We might actually be able to get to the store and buy one of those Oculus headsets to play around with that tonight. And I think we might, before you fly out tomorrow, record another podcast, maybe for patrons of my page on Patreon for The Casual Astrology Podcast or something like that and maybe continue more of these discussions or some of the many things that we didn’t get to in our outline today.
KB: Yeah. You had four pages of notes, which I think is above average. And there’s a lot of philosophical things I’d love to dive into actually. It might be fun to kind of dig into both the foundations and some deeper questions of fate and free will and other things. So maybe for the listeners who want to do… If you’ve listened to this point, congratulations, thank you for listening to this so far.
CB: In the history, this is definitely the longest episode in the history of Astrology Podcast. I think it’s even longer than the Zodiac Releasing episode because we’ve been recording for like five hours and 12 minutes or something when you include the breaks. So thank you and congratulations for also being my longest guest. Yeah, we’ll record more tomorrow but I guess that’s it for this episode.
KB: Yeah. Thanks for having me.
CB: All right. Thanks everyone for watching this episode of The Astrology Podcast, and we’ll see you again next time.
Special thanks to all the patrons that supported the production of this episode of the podcast through our page on patreon.com. In particular, thanks to the patrons on our producers’ tier including Nate Craddock, Thomas Miller, Catherine Conroy, Kristi Moe, Ariana Amour, Mandi Rae, Angelic Nambo, Sumo Coppock, Issah Sabah, Jake Otero, Morgan MacKenzie, and Kristin Otero. If you like the work that I’m doing here on the podcast and you would like to find a way to support it then please consider becoming a patron through my page on patreon.com and in exchange you’ll get access to bonus content such as early access to new episodes, the ability to attend the live recording of the month ahead forecast each month, access to a private monthly auspicious elections report that we put out each month, access to exclusive episodes that are only available for patrons, or you can also get your name listed in the credits at the end of each episode. For more information, go to patreon.com/astrologypodcast. The main software we use here on the podcast to look at astrological charts is called Solar Fire for Windows which is available at alabe.com, and you can use the promo code AP15 to get a 15% discount. For Mac users, we use a similar set of software by the same programming team called Astro Gold for Mac OS which is available from astrogold.io, and you can use the promo code ASTROPODCAST15 to get a 15% discount on that as well.
If you’d like to learn more about the approach to astrology that I outline on the podcast, then you should check out my book titled Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, where I traced the origins of Western astrology and reconstructed the original system that was developed about 2000 years ago. In this book, I outline basic concepts but also take you into intermediate and advanced techniques for reading a birth chart, including some timing techniques. You can find more about the book at hellenisticastrology.com/book. The book pairs very well with my online course on ancient astrology called the Hellenistic Astrology Course, which has over 100 hours of video lectures where I go into detail about teaching you how to read a birth chart, and showing hundreds of example charts in order to really demonstrate how the techniques work in practice. Find out more information about that at theastrologyschool.com. And finally, special thanks to our sponsors including The Mountain Astrologer magazine which is available at mountainastrologer.com, the Honeycomb Collective Personal Astrological Almanacs available at honeycomb.co, the Portland School of Astrology available at portlandastrology.org, and the Astro Gold Astrology App which is available for iPhone and Android. You can find out more information about that at astrogold.io.